Goodwill® Is More Than Stuff and Stores: It’s about Stories

African-American man uses a computer at Goodwill job connection centerYou just dropped off a donation and drove away with your receipt, feeling great about cleaning out your closet and leaving behind the things you no longer need.

But here’s what else you should feel great about: Those jeans, sweaters, shoes, curtains, and video games you donated just helped people change their lives.

Working with Goodwill® for over two years now as a spokesperson has changed my life too. I always knew Goodwill was an impressive and fantastic organization, but until I met more of the people we’ve helped, I had no idea the depth of meaning that Goodwill’s services brings to the world. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to go behind the scenes to hear the stories behind the stores, and I am so passionate about showing people the Goodwill they don’t know!

Our Donation Impact Calculator, located at, helps make this connection.  You can plug in your donated items and it will tell you how that donation helped someone. For example:

  • One working computer equates to 6.8 hours of on-the-job training for someone like Vincent, a man with mental disabilities whom I met on a tour in New York. He received training and now works in Goodwill’s own contract area for companies who need assembly and packaging work for their products.
  • Two bags of clothing provide 2.1 hours of financial planning class for someone like Suarez, whom I met on a tour here in Texas. He recently was released from a long prison stay and did not have any idea how to apply for jobs and do interviews. Goodwill helped him learn interviewing and application skills, and he recently got his first paycheck from the restaurant where he now works. He was so proud he took a picture of it! He now has the advice he needs about how to manage money for the first time in his adult life.
  • One box of books provides 42 minutes of career counseling for someone like Shelton, whom I also met here in Texas. Goodwill helped him find his job as a security guard and he is now working towards earning his associates degree in criminal justice. Goodwill helped him see that his learning disability did not have to keep him from his goals.

Every 38 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill earns a good job. Everybody wins! You get a responsible and smart place to easily donate unwanted items (and probably a tax deduction), someone in your community gets a connection to work they never would have previously had, your community benefits from healthier families and a stronger economy, shoppers win with big bargains, and even the planet wins as those items you donated are diverted from ending up in landfills.

The big misconception is that Goodwill is all about the stores. The stores are certainly the most visible part, but they are truly the tip of the iceberg! There is so much more to know about Goodwill’s impact on the community. As we celebrate Goodwill Industries Week, May 6-12, 2012, I hope you’ll remember that it’s about more than just the stuff and the stores… it’s about the STORIES. If you’re grateful for the abundance in your life, activate that gratitude by donating what you no longer need to help people like Vincent, Suarez, Sheldon, and others.