Wondering what to do with that beaded dress or those business suits you haven’t worn in years? Or the fancy dishes packed in boxes, not used since paper plates became the entertainment go-to? How about the leather sofa in the basement collecting dust ever since the new sectional took over the family room? Did you know those unused clothes, dishware and furniture languishing in closets, kitchens and basements have the ability to change lives?
Spring cleaning to purge unused items doesn’t just benefit your home and closet. It can help generate revenue to provide life-changing employment training and job placement services for individuals working to achieve their fullest potential.
“Our whole mission, and the reason for our stores, is to help people find a job, train for a better job or earn life skills that allow them to live more independently,” said Mindy Boyd, chief operating officer for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys in Roanoke, Virginia, one of more than 150 independent, community-based Goodwills in the United States and Canada.
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“While the winter doldrums and the desire to stay inside usually translates to slower donations during the holidays and such, spring — and the spring cleaning that accompanies it — is so important for us on so many levels, because the majority of the funds for the programs we support come from the sale of the donated items in our stores,” Boyd said.
How it works and what to donate
Boyd recommends breaking up your spring cleaning into small chunks, one closet or one room at a time, to make the purge less daunting. Once items are dropped off, they have a four-week life cycle in the Goodwill store and move through various discount levels throughout that period. Additional discounts and promotions are available at the register during checkout. Staff members keep the donation cycle fresh by displaying new items daily.
Boyd said all types of items are appreciated: clothing, housewares, bedding, gently used toys and books, one-of-a-kind knickknacks, to name a few. Donated vehicles are accepted as well, and even medical equipment. The organization partners with a veteran-owned and -operated company to provide pickup service for items that donors are unable to transport on their own.
Not sure whether to donate that item or discard it? Boyd suggests asking yourself if it’s an item “you would give to a friend.” However, Goodwill does take clothes or items with flaws because in many cases they have a way to sell at a lower price or directly recycle to keep things out of the landfill. If a garment has a stain on it or missing a button, bring it anyway! This is true of shoes, purses, belts, books, stuffed animals, linens, etc. Boyd and her staff make sure that as much is kept from the landfill as possible. See below for full list of donations they are not able to accept, or go to the website for more details:
- Major appliances
- Mattresses or box springs
- Televisions and CRT monitors
- Children’s cribs, strollers, playpens, car seats or other infant furniture
- Hazardous, flammable or toxic materials
- Wet or badly stained items, garbage or trash
“We love big-ticket items like furniture, too,” she said. “It’s so fun to be able to offer a great piece at a low price when we know someone will be taking it home and putting it to immediate use. At Goodwill, we provide that one-of-a-kind shopping moment — in fact, we like to say, you’ll never find it anywhere else.”
Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, by the numbers
According to Boyd, more than 970,000 items were donated throughout 2022. The money generated from the sales of those items provided critical revenue to support Goodwill’s missions. The services Goodwill provided helped more than 1,400 people find employment, allowed nearly 300 individuals to earn credentials in the health care field and helped 114 youths gain summer employment and benefit from recreation and academic enrichment programming. These funds also provided support to 1,031 job seekers at career centers with resume and employment search assistance and soft skills training.
For questions, advice or availability of services, please visit goodwillvalleys.com.