Goodwill Helps Reduce Unemployment, Carbon Footprint

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If you’ve lived in Minnesota for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with Goodwill stores. Perhaps you shop there because you enjoy getting a good deal. Maybe you donate extras because you hate to throw away perfectly good items.

Did you know that every time you shop or donate at a Goodwill, you’re helping reduce unemployment? The majority of profits from Goodwill Easter Seals in Minnesota goes into the organization’s social services programs, according to Holly Harrison, communications manager.

“What makes Goodwill unique is all the employment services, the nonprofit side of things,” Harrison said.

Goodwill International has a common mission of reducing barriers to employment and independence. Each region approaches that mission differently. In 1984, Minnesota’s Goodwill affiliate merged with Easter Seals, a nonprofit that exists specifically to help those with disabilities. The two entities work together to provide a variety of employment-related services, including skills assessments, specialized job training, computer classes, English language classes, on-the-job coaching and more.

The needs of those who use these services vary greatly, Harrison said. In Minnesota, 65 percent come from a low-income background, 60 percent have a disability and 24 percent did not finish high school. About 30 percent are involved in the organization’s Re-Entry program, specifically targeted to those who are struggling to find jobs again after time spent in the criminal justice system.

Boyer & Associates is proud to serve Goodwill Easter Seals through Microsoft Dynamics GP software, which supports the organization’s management of its financials.

Statistics show that on average, anyone who was unemployed in 2016 remained unemployed for half the year. Goodwill Easter Seals is doing its part to reduce unemployment in Minnesota. Every day, the organization sends four people back into the workforce.

“It shocked even me the first time I read it,” said Harrison. “Just for Minnesota, that’s pretty impressive!”

Some go to work directly at a Goodwill store while others use the training they received from the organization to land jobs at medical offices, banks, automobile shops and construction sites.

In addition to its goal of reducing unemployment, Goodwill Easter Seals strives to be environmentally friendly. Accepting donations that might otherwise end up in a landfill is its most obvious recycling initiative.

Overall, 50 million pounds of goods — in Minnesota alone — are diverted from landfills and instead donated to Goodwill. The organization sells everything from clothing to household and kitchenware to furniture and even accepts vehicle donations.

“You can definitely outfit your whole house at a Goodwill,” Harrison said.

In keeping with current technology, the organization now sells many of its goods online. At ShopGoodwill.com, buyers can browse and bid on electronics, collectibles, jewelry, art, instruments and other specialized items.

The most high-end items typically end up at Goodwill’s Second Début location in St. Louis Park. This boutique features items from name brand designers such as Prada, Coach, Vera Wang and Christian Dior, to name a few.

Items that are broken or unable to be sold in its regular retail stores are recycled yet again, going to third-party resellers who buy in bulk to fix up and reuse or resell themselves. Bulk items are also available at outlet locations in Brooklyn Center and St. Paul.

Reselling gently used items is not the only way the organization reduces its carbon footprint. The majority of Goodwill retail stores are Energy Star-certified and many feature electric car charging stations, a popular feature for green-conscious shoppers.

“We really pride ourselves in being a green organization,” Harrison said.

Most Goodwill stores and donation centers are open 7 days a week. For exact hours, check out their store locator.

Did you know? Through Goodwill’s efforts:

  • 4 people become newly employed every day in Minnesota alone
  • 60 percent of Minnesota stores are Energy Star-certified
  • 50 million pounds of goods in Minnesota are diverted from landfills each year