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From Closet to Checkout: Goodwill Can Change Lives

Goodwill donations by resident
A resident drops off donations for Goodwill.

If you’ve ever dropped off a box of donations at your local Goodwill, you might have wondered what happens to it after you hand it over. Where will it go? Who will buy it? How much will it sell for, and where will that money go?

In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how far your donation goes.

Step One: The Drop-Off. After a long day of cleaning out closets, “Meredith” brings her box of donations – lightly used clothes, some home décor and kids’ toys – to a nearby Goodwill center. It’s a quick trip: She’s finished in the time it takes to unload two boxes.

While she may not realize it, her donation is already making an impact. Instead of going to a landfill, the items will be purchased by local buyers – reducing waste and offsetting the environmental footprint of buying new. In Central Florida alone, Goodwill diverts 16 million pounds of waste from landfills every year.

Inspecting donations at Goodwill.

Step Two: Behind the Scenes. Growing up with a learning disability, “Erik” was regularly told what he couldn’t do. Things that were simple for most people – interviewing for a job or working five days a week – were considered impossible for him.

But when he was referred to vocational rehabilitation at Goodwill, he met a caring team of counselors who helped him challenge those limits. Now a donation processor, he enjoys a flexible workload, accessible accommodations, and the dignity and independence of a meaningful career.

When Meredith drops off her donations, Erik and his team will check for visible damage. Items in good condition will be sorted, priced and sent out to local stores. Any items that can’t be accepted (such as fuel, batteries, and certain electronics) will be safely disposed of or recycled, if possible.

Step Three: In the Store Aisles. A new college student, “Layla” wants to add some personality to her dorm room without breaking her budget. When she heads to the local Goodwill to shop for deals, a colorful throw pillow donated by Meredith catches her eye. It’s just what she was looking for.

As Layla heads to the register, she can’t help but smile.

Step Four: After Check-Out. It’s been tough for “Greg” to find work. He’s applied for multiple jobs without success … until someone recommends that he contact Goodwill’s virtual Job Connection team.

Thanks to Meredith’s donation and Layla’s purchase, Goodwill is able to provide free career counseling to any Central Floridian looking for work. For Greg, that means partnering with a trained specialist who can help him fine-tune his resume, practice interviewing and connect with employers in his field. That support pays off: After months of searching, he finally gets the “yes” he’s been waiting for.

Dropping off a box at Goodwill is a quick and convenient stop on Meredith’s daily commute. For Erik, Goodwill is a career that lets him polish his professional skills and give back to the community. And Layla sees it as a chance find great deals on everything from stylish dorm décor … to professional outfits for her next internship … to furniture for a new apartment.

But for neighbors like Greg, those donations can mean even more: help, support and a chance at a brighter future. To learn more about donating – and how it can make a difference – visit

Arnold Sanchez is VP of Retail and Donated Goods at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. 

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