Goodwill for Back to School? Yes!

You JUST put away the last of the school stuff from last year - which may or may not have included a science experiment in a forgotten lunchbox - so guess what time it is? Time for BACK to school shopping!

So fun, and so expensive. Especially if you have "tweens," like me, who can officially wear "adult" clothes. Simple t-shirt? More expensive. Cool pair of jeans? WAY more expensive. Shoes? Don't even get me started.

Luckily, I - and by extension (and the fact they have no debit card) my girls - are not afraid to thrift shop! About a week ago, we visited the Goodwill store in Jackson Township for a Back to School thrifting session (sesh, in tweenspeak). 

When I thrift shop with my girls, I tell them we are looking to fill in around the edges basically. Anyone with kids this age knows they definitely have certain things they CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT, and so we do go ahead and selectively order online those particular items - within a predetermined budget. (I'm not crazy!) 

Those things, while essential in their eyes, will probably not give you the quantity you need to make it through a week or so without having to do laundry every.single.night. That's where Goodwill comes in! Having already spent the bulk of my back to school budget, I needed some things that could fill up the closet on the cheap. 

Here are just some examples of the kinds of staples we found at Goodwill:


Everyday hoodies - this one is from Old Navy (where we get those anyway), for a cool $4.

Athletic shorts - these are Nike (they MUST be Nike) and we got them for $3! I would usually be adding a "0" to that when I order them online. 

I was happy with the selection, and I haven't even gotten to the best part yet: MOMSCORE and BONUSFIND. First, let me define these for you:

A MOMSCORE is when you find something for yourself - and in this case I TRULY was not even looking. This Gap jacket was hanging on the end of a rack and I think it actually said my name when I walked by. $8! It still has the tags on it - a no-brainer.

momscore2 (1)

A BONUSFIND is when you find one of those items your kids CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT - but at Goodwill! My daughter has been asking for a Vera Bradley bookbag for a while. Let's just say they are more than we normally budget for bookbags (I'm sure Vera is a nice person, but geez). I had contemplated making this one of her "special" items that we do order, but I am happy to report I let my frugal side talk me out of that - and then we found this for $10! She could not be happier, even if she will not pose for a photo (Moms, you understand). 


So, PLEASE think about educating your kids about how shopping Goodwill for back to school can mean more bang for your buck - which translates into more stuff in their closet! With plenty of options, the bus-is-getting-here-in-three-minutes-and-I-have-NOTHING-to-wear meltdowns could be fewer and farther between (we all know they will still happen).

Happy shopping!

The Growth of Goodwill

Goodwill Industries International, Inc., widely known as Goodwill, is one of the most well-known charitable organizations in the United States and also has a presence in 13 other countries. While a majority of people only see Goodwill as a retail thrift chain and a place to donate their gently used clothes, furniture and household goods, this is only a portion of our nonprofit organization’s goal. We're also a social service agency dedicated to helping people in the communities it serves by providing job skills training and services they need to obtain gainful employment and improve their lives. This dedication began more than 100 years ago and continues to be a driving force in communities across the country.

From Humble Beginnings

Goodwill got its start in Boston in 1902 when Methodist minister and early social innovator, Reverend Edgar J. Helms developed a new system to help the poor. Helms set out to collect used clothing and household goods from wealthier areas of the city. He then hired and trained poverty-stricken individuals to mend apparel and repair household items like furniture and appliances. Once refurbished, everything was either resold or given to the individuals who performed the work. A new philosophy was born, “Not Charity, but a Chance,” and the system worked well. It allowed individuals to break away from the degradation of asking for a handout and instead infused them with the dignity of earning for themselves.

Edgar J Helms


Growth of a Charitable Giant

Goodwill differed from many of the other charities of the time by establishing stores where donated items could be sold for profit. Then, these monies could be used to pay the workers that helped repair the various goods. Helms believed that everyone had the potential to work, given the right opportunities and training. By working and doing for themselves, disadvantaged individuals not only kept their dignity, they also were empowered to take charge of their situations and make their lives better through their own toil. The system worked so well that Helms’ vision grew into what has become a multi-billion-dollar nonprofit organization inspired by the same principles. While Goodwill workers no longer repair items, the same business model is used today in every one of our more than 3,200 stores.

Goodwill History

Local History

Several of these stores are operated by Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc. This Goodwill was formed by the merging of Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and Goodwill Industries of East Central Ohio, Inc. in 2005. Together we have been serving local communities throughout Cleveland, East Central Ohio and a portion of West Virginia for nearly 100 years. We serve 10 counties, including Carroll, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, Stark, Tuscarawas and a portion of Lake Counties in Ohio and Brooke and Hancock Counties in West Virginia. We not only have retail stores located throughout these areas, but also offer various programs to help improve employment opportunities and the quality of life for all the individuals we serve.

Although times have changed, Helms’ vision has remained intact. Goodwill continues to strive to help communities everywhere. With your donations and patronage of the many retail stores around the country, you can, too.Centennial Blog Post

The last time you replaced your computer, what did you do with the old one?

If you can’t remember, it probably wasn’t a meaningful experience. Next time, consider donating your computer and/or other used technology to Goodwill’s ComputersAgain Program.

ComputersAgain is a Goodwill program that delivers mission by connecting refurbished computers to people who otherwise could not afford this technology, while reducing e-waste and creating opportunity.

Computers (mainly desktops, including monitor, keyboard, mouse, and tower) are made available for $85, after need is identified through an application process. Individuals, schools, and other non-profits are all eligible to purchase ComputersAgain computers, although most are purchased by individuals and families who require the significant cost savings in order to participate in the digital world.

Goodwill staff, volunteers and people in Goodwill programs focused on computer training set out to work every day on the donated computers, tackling each piece individually before reassembling it into a like-new machine. All components are wiped, cleaned and tested; once assembled, it’s loaded with Windows 10 – and then the entire unit goes through a quality control process before being placed on a shelf marked “ready.”

In 2016, 319 computers were provided, and 81 had been provided as of June 7, 2017.

So the next time you upgrade your computer, or if you think you may qualify to receive a computer through the ComputersAgain Program, think Goodwill.

Where to donate

Apply for a ComputersAgain computer

ComputersAgain blog




Benefits of Donating to Goodwill

Ditch the dumpster and donate your items at Goodwill! It is earth friendly, supports an organization that provides valuable services to individuals in your community and it could even save you a few dollars on your income taxes. Simply gather your donations, ensure each item is in good condition, drop it off at Goodwill and pick up a receipt for a possible tax deduction.

What Can You Donate?

You can donate most of your gently used clothing, furniture and household goods to Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio. If your items are in saleable condition, donate them to one of your local Goodwill stores or attended donation centers. Cuyahoga and Lake County residents can also schedule a free pickup for large donations, like furniture. If you’re unable to bring your Goodwill donations in yourself and you meet the three-piece minimum, reserve a free pickup.

Goodwill Donations are Tax Deductible

When you drop off your Goodwill donations, an attendant will provide you with a donation receipt. If you itemize your deductions on your federal tax return, you may be able to use this receipt to claim a charitable deduction. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines, you can deduct the fair market value of the items you’ve donated throughout the year. Fair market value isn’t the price you originally paid for the items, but the price a buyer would be willing to pay for the items in their current condition. While Goodwill can provide a list of average prices for common items sold in its stores, a charity isn’t allowed to tell you what these items are worth. Instead, refer to IRS Publication 561 (Determining the Value of Donated Property) and/or consult with a local tax adviser. Try using this estimating tool or referring to this donation guideline from Goodwill Industries International.

Donating Helps Goodwill Mission and the Environment

Besides your potential tax deduction, donating items to local charities helps keep more stuff out of the landfill. Best of all, your Goodwill donations help create opportunities for community members who need to find a job or build much needed job skills. 

Update: This Dresser Can Talk!

Back at the beginning of May, I told you how a dresser talked to me and said it wanted to be a cool outdoor planter. (It sounds less crazy if you read the full post - here.)

Well, I finally got around to trying this - a full two weeks before my self-imposed deadline! Yay me! It kind of happened naturally, because I cleaned out the LAST of the dreaded post-move-I-will-do-that-someday-pile-in-the-garage and I actually found things to add to it. Old planter/pots? Found. Bobble head souvenir from Hawaii? Found. I even found half a bag of potting soil, although I needed more.

So with all these extra things, this started to take the shape of a little vignette, kind of like a fairy garden or something. It has a long way to go, because the cool factor is only achieved when flowers are growing out of it, every which way. I planted - will they come? Stay tuned!

Update collage (1)


5 Baby Items You Should Buy at a Thrift Store

Raising children is expensive!  Fortunately, many items needed for your baby and grandbaby can easily and safely be purchased at your local Goodwill store.  Secondhand baby items are usually in excellent condition, because kids grow up so fast that items are sometimes utilized for mere months. Here are four items we definitely suggest buying secondhand.

#1 Gear

Strollers, tummy time mats and strollers are all items that can safely be bought at secondhand. At Goodwill, we properly screen all baby gear donations – making sure items are well within expiration date and do not have associated product recalls.

#2 Clothes 

Kids grow up so quickly!  They often wear items once or twice (especially in the beginning) and then grow right into the next size. At thrift stores, you can get a bag full of baby clothes for the same price you would pay for one brand new outfit. 

Baby Clothes

#3 Toys

Like clothes, baby toys have a short shelf life because kids may love a certain toy for just a short period of time.  We know Grandma wants to make sure her house is stocked with fun things to do! Shopping at Goodwill just makes sense when starting a playroom for your grandkids.

Kids Toys

#4 Closeouts

Sometimes, Goodwill receives brand new closeout items from local retailers. When you find a brand new water table or stroller at Goodwill discounted prices, you’ve hit the jackpot!

#5 Books

Baby and children’s books are pricey from other retailers, but Goodwill offers books every day for just $1.00. Stop in and browse our selection and pick up a few new reads for a small investment. Also, if you’re heading to baby showers a lot, an emerging trend is to give a book instead of a card as part of your gift. Head to Goodwill first! You’ll be glad you did.

Baby Books

For such tiny people, babies sure do need a lot of stuff!  Save money by getting some key items second hand. Great finds start at your local thrift store.  Happy shopping!

Anniversaries are for Celebrating!

Centennial Blog PostToday, your Goodwill will be meeting to start planning a 100 year anniversary celebration – that’s right, Goodwill has been active in your community for almost a century!

Anniversaries are important, and sometimes we don’t take enough time – or any at all – to mark important moments in time. I started paying attention to milestone dates when we abruptly moved out of state and away from everything we knew several years ago. Each year when “moving day” came around, I would think about what all had changed, and luckily, all the good things that had stayed the same. A sparkling grape juice toast on the beach, every year on moving day, gave us the chance to pause and put things in perspective.

Beginning next year, a big part of Goodwill’s anniversary will be to provide the communities we serve with these opportunities for reflection – as well as celebration and inspiration for future service.

So, whether you are a Goodwill donor, shopper, or someone who has been impacted by the services Goodwill provides in your community, watch for a 100 year celebration event near you. Please join us in marking these important moments, and remember to celebrate the anniversaries in your own life!

Mission Services Awareness Day 2017

As I sat in a meeting, I listened to a store manager mention that someone she interviewed said, “Goodwill exists to help poor people.” That statement hit me hard that day.  Goodwill has various programs to assist every population within the communities we serve.  At that point, I realized we as employees need to not just “do” the mission, but share our mission!  Customers and donors need to know how they are helping their community and where they fit into the Cycle of Success!


On Friday, May 19th, 2017, mission services staff along with volunteers from other departments at Goodwill spent the day at all 24 Goodwill retail locations. The goal was to share Goodwill’s mission and to thank customers and donors while explaining how they are fitting into the Cycle of Success!

Staff had tables set up full of information on various programs, the Goodwill mission, Goodwill's Cycle of Success, Mission Moment cards, as well as sweet treats and Goodwill coloring pages for the younger shoppers. 

Shoppers were greeted, thanked and offered information.  At many locations, donors were also greeted and given Mission Moment cards which have the Cycle of Success on the back and donors were shown how they're the catalyst to beginning the cycle.

The day was full of gratitude, appreciation and sharing!  Most customers were not sure what to say when they were greeted with a thank you!  The day was a success in many ways! 

Tracy's Story

TracyAt Goodwill, we set out to help individuals become the best versions of themselves through life and employment skills training programs, and we work with our clients in a special way that helps maximize individual and community impact. At the end of the day, we want to change lives…for good. Our Goodwill staff has had the honor of serving someone who shares in our passion for impacting lives – Tracy Smith wants to change the world.

In a story symbolic of so many trying to break the cycle of poverty and addiction, Tracy has a passion, but the means to pursue it seemed far out of reach when she first came to Goodwill. She has a strong desire to work in the social services field, and she dreams of owning a recovery center for women trying to overcome addiction and create better lives for their children.

She enrolled in our Dream to Achieve Program, which provides flexible, individualized services that create opportunities for people and families to become happy, whole and self-sufficient. It’s a program that lets our clients set the tone and pace, but provides concrete and helpful resources for overcoming obstacles in reaching their goals.  

Tracy laid out an ambitious school and work schedule, completing her practicum at a sober living home while attending Stark State College. She remained active in her Dream to Achieve Program and constantly thought about next steps. Tracy graduated in January of this year – a milestone moment in reaching her dream to open a recovery center for women. Tracy was also awarded Goodwill’s “Achiever of the Year” award at Goodwill’s annual Report to the Community event this past March. We at Goodwill have seen Tracy’s drive and ambition and believe she can accomplish her dreams and change the world…for good.

I’d like to invite community members looking to learn more about Goodwill and our mission, to attend an upcoming Get Acquainted with Goodwill luncheon on May 31. Tracy will be there to speak about her experiences with Goodwill and give us an update her progress towards reaching her dream of helping others.

Please visit click here to register for this free luncheon online, or email to reserve a seat. We hope to see you there.


Anne Richards

Interim President & CEO

Five Ways to Combat Summertime Boredom with Goodwill

SumerbreakThe end of the school year is barreling down on kids, teachers and parents alike. And while two of those three groups of people may be ready for a well-deserved summer vacation, I’d venture to bet that parents are a little worried about their kids at home for the next two and a half months. Some are frantically enrolling their kids in any summer camp or programming available, others are calling in grandma for help, and some parents are leaving their kids at home and up to their own devices. The first summer “home alone” can be exciting for teens but a little terrifying for parents. As my co-worker just said, “it’s going to be hunger games at my house this summer… not both of my kids will make it out alive.”  I have to admit I laughed out loud at that one… but it also got me thinking about how Goodwill can help ease some parental worry and help your kids combat summertime boredom.

Trying to help some parents out there, I came up with a list of five ways Goodwill can help.

Bored Games (pun intended) – I browsed a local Goodwill’s games section and noticed classic and unique board games for sale. Learning and playing a new game is always fun. Board games are great to bring your family (and kids) together in the spirit of healthy competition. Even better, all the games I was looking at were priced under $10.


Five Dollar Reward – Okay, sometimes being a parents means we’re not above bribing our kids to get them to do a load of laundry or clean their rooms. Taking the kiddos on a “five-dollar shopping spree” at Goodwill is a fun and frugal way to reward or treat your kids. You can definitely find shirts, flip flops, DVDs and books for five-dollars or less.


Teen Donating ClothesDonate – Maybe it’s just me, but even has a teen I always enjoyed sorting through all my “stuff” and purging clothing, books and toys I no longer needed. Task the kids with collecting twenty-five items to donate to Goodwill. Who knows, you may even get a reorganized bedroom closet out it!

Volunteer – Along the same lines as your teens cleaning out their own closets, Goodwill offers a volunteer opportunity for teens to organize and host their own community donation drive. Often times, high-schoolers need to complete a certain number of community service hours over the summer break. Hosting a donation drive is a unique, fun spin on building up some service hours. Click here for more information!

New Entertainment – Did you know that books, used CDs and DVDs are all priced at $1 at Goodwill? Encourage your teens to head to Goodwill first when looking for a new book to read or a new video game to play.

What do you think of the list? Anything you’d like to add? And please, share your ideas and activities that seem to work for keeping your kids entertained over the summer break! I’d love to hear from you.