Living Green for June 14, 2012

I have dropped off some hideous clothes to Goodwill many times and honestly, I can’t imagine anyone actually wearing them. Then when I find that wild hair and decide to clean out my mixed assortment of kitchenware, I donate those random items too. However, as the phrase goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

So what happens to these clothes and household items you drop off at Goodwill? Does it really make a difference? The obvious answer is yes, but do you know the rest of the story?

In our area, Goodwill of Lower South Carolina covers 18 counties with 25 retail stores and 13 Job Link Centers. According to the organization, donations are the key to the sustainability of Goodwill’s employment programs. Through community donations and the sales in retail stores, Goodwill is able to help those in need of jobs, which is historically its primary mission. When you donate one bag of clothing, you are helping to provide almost one hour of career counseling. Any amount you spend at a Goodwill store goes towards the support of job training programs and employment services. But even if you don’t buy items from Goodwill, donations will always be accepted. I do find myself in second-hand stores frequently and you wouldn’t believe how many items still have price tags on them. It’s just amazing what people donate, and then it ends up as a treasure to me, too.

If you are looking for a job, but need some assistance, humble yourself and visit one of Goodwill’s Job Link Centers. Goodwill offers free employment services through the Job Link Center, which is open to the public. But here’s the best part: these services are free to anyone and for any job, not just jobs at Goodwill. Who knew?

The Job Link Center offers free career coaching, computers for job searching, resume writing assistance, job training and employment placement services. There are also employment specialists for persons with disabilities and homeless veterans. Goodwill Job Link Centers in Horry County are available at the Little River, North Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest stores. In 2011, 30,845 people in Lower South Carolina took advantage of this free service and 560 people were placed into new jobs.

Goodwill also provides other services, such as Operation Independence, which includes training and support for homeless veterans and the Voucher Program, for those that have immediate needs after a disaster. Another program is the AbilityOne Program, which is the largest source of contract employment for people who are blind or have other disabilities. Goodwill provides businesses with these employees to have jobs such as switchboard operations, mailroom services, or warehouse operations. More than 600 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. employ these individuals.

Goodwill started in Boston in 1902 by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, who collected used items from the rich and trained the poor to mend and repair the used items. Sounds a bit like Robin Hood, but using the method of donation. The organization formally started in 1910 and continued to provide job skills training programs and a placement service. Job training and service has always been the foundation of Goodwill.

Regarding those donations, in 2011, 13,506,225 pounds of reusable goods were kept out of South Carolina landfills because of donations to Goodwill. Even if you have electronics that may or may not work, donate them to Goodwill. Goodwill partnered with Dell Reconnect and makes sure that electronics are recycled properly, even if they are not resellable in the store.

If you wish to donate items that are in good shape, Goodwill accepts gently-used clothing, household items and furniture. The staff inspects all donated clothes and they are looking to make sure there aren’t any soils, stains, or holes. But even if your clothes are not in great shape, still donate them instead of throwing them into the trashcan. Clothes that are not put in the stores are sent to textile salvage companies, which continue to keep textiles out of landfills. And you don’t have to worry about which Goodwill to drop off your donations. They will take care of rotating items among the local stores to keep the stores well stocked with a variety of merchandise.

On the other hand, to prevent costly disposable fees, Goodwill cannot accept the following: wall-to-wall carpeting, tires or wheels, flammable or toxic materials, live plants or animals, fire arms and ammunition, paint ball guns, oil stands and tanks, oxygen tanks, propane tanks or paint.

If you have any questions, please contact Goodwill of Lower South Carolina at (843) 566-0072 or visit online at .