Where are They Now

How to Turn Toys from the Past into Jobs of the Future

Every holiday season, it seems there's a new toy, game or device that has parents making a mad dash to the mall. While some of those holiday favorites live on for years, others fall by the wayside faster than you can say “Happy New Year!” Luckily, for 83 years, Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc. has been available to turn the items in your land of forgotten toys (formerly known as your basement or garage) into job training and employment services for the Lincoln community.

Let's take a look at some of the most memorable and sought-after holiday toys of the last 20 years and how they can make a difference today.

Beanie Babies (1995): In the mid-‘90s, Beanie Babies were all the rage, and shoppers scrambled to find just the right ones to complete their collections. Beanie Babies had been around for years before they hit the big time, but it was a marketing strategy built around retiring certain popular Babies that drove the toys to the next level. This "manufactured scarcity" sent collectors scurrying, and by the end of 1996, more than 100 million Beanie Babies had been sold. Where are they now? Even though their heady heyday has passed, new Beanie Babies are still widely available today.


Tickle Me Elmo (1996): This stuffed, interactive Sesame Street character caused mass hysteria and literal stampedes when production didn't meet demand for Christmas 1996. Stories of Elmos selling for 50 times the retail price, or more, were not unheard of. Where are they now? Elmo's no one-hit wonder! Several new editions have been released over the years, including Tickle Me Elmo Extreme, Elmo Live and Let's Rock Elmo.



Holiday Donation Tip: Goodwill is happy to accept donations of clean plush toys in good condition. Make another child's holiday season brighter by donating stuffed toys that are no longer played with in your home. Find your nearest donation site here or schedule a pick up of large items here.

Tamagotchi (1997): These key-fob-sized, egg-shaped digital pets required around-the-clock care and feeding. Even though Tamagotchi disrupted classrooms and gave children unexpected lessons in death when their digital pets died from neglect, consumers couldn't get enough of them. Japanese toy maker Bandai reported a whopping $150 million in Tamagotchi sales in 1996 alone. Where are they now? Tamagotchi devices have experienced a recent resurgence as Tamagotchi Friends, and apps emulating the original devices are a hit on smartphones.



Furby (1998): The care and feeding of inanimate objects continued the following year with the success of Furby. Beloved by children and despised by family pets, these Gremlin-lookalikes demanded your attention in their own Furbish language. More than 15 million were sold in 1998 and 1999. Where are they now? Furby has been going strong in recent years with new smartphone-connected editions that Gizmodo says possess "…an unconscionable degree of loud, bright and wiggly."



Razor Scooters (2000): Whether you were a kid in the suburbs or a junior executive in midtown Manhattan at the turn of the century, you may have transported yourself from A to B with the ubiquitous Razor scooter. More than 5 million of the original model sold in its first six months on the market, earning Razor the 2000 Toy of the Year award. Where are they now? With a number of models for kids and grown-ups, including motorized scooters, Razor is still going strong today.



Holiday Donation Tip: Donations of scooters, bikes and skateboards are always welcome at Goodwill. These donations provide opportunities for healthy, active fun for the buyers and employment opportunities for those who benefit from your generous Goodwill donations.

Bratz Dolls (2001): Although the brash Bratz dolls debuted to meager numbers in the summer of 2001, by Christmas of that year they'd built up momentum to become a hit. In their first five years, 125 million Bratz Dolls were sold, and they'd managed to capture 40 percent of the fashion doll market, giving stalwart Barbie a run for her money. Where are they now? After an 11-year legal battle with Barbie's maker Mattel, Bratz are making a comeback in 2015 with, of course, a smartphone app tie-in and modern tech accessories.



Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo (2005-2006): – The mid-aughts were a great time for gamers with giant leaps in technology leading to the release of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii consoles within a 12-month period. These so-called seventh-generation consoles included never-before-seen advances like high-definition graphics, 3D Blu-ray capabilities and wireless motion-sensing controllers. Where are they now? All three manufacturers — Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo — are going strong with new editions Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U, respectively.



Holiday Donation Tip: Goodwill accepts donations of gaming consoles, handhelds and video games. Review our Annual Report to visualize the importance of your donation to the local community.

Zhu Zhu Pets (2009) and Squinkies (2010): In a time dominated by a growing recession and popular but expensive electronics offerings, leave it to two decidedly low-tech toys to give iPads and iPods a run for their money. At under $10 each, Zhu Zhu Pets — small, battery-operated hamsters — flew off the shelves in 2009, selling 10 million units that season. The following year, Squinkies — tiny collectible figurines sold in packs of 16 — debuted at the same price point. Squinkies' popularity was driven by a then-novel approach of encouraging mom bloggers to promote the toy. The strategy worked, and Squinkies sold out at Walmart and Target stores nationwide.





If any of these once-popular toys are cluttering your home, consider making a donation to Goodwill this holiday season. Engage your kids in the process by having them gather clothes, toys and other items for donation. The Donation Match Game is a fun way for kids and parents alike to learn about which items are best for donation versus recycling. By donating, you can give toys a second life, safely re-home outdated electronics and become a job creator in our community. And don't forget to browse our store for your holiday gift-giving needs.

Each and every donation to and purchase from Goodwill helps support programs that provide employment assistance to those in need — including people with disabilities, military families, single parents and more. It's good for you and good for our community.

Click here to learn more.

What popular toy of the past 20 years will you be donating this holiday season?

Goodwill Funds Victim Impact Class for Offenders

Goodwill Funds Victim Impact Class for Offenders, Community Justice Center Expands Services Nationwide  

Community Justice Center is excited to share with the public news about its continued expansion working with more incarcerated persons and individuals on probation throughout Nebraska.     

Jim Jones, Executive Director of Community Justice Center, is excited about the future of the program that now has expanded to all twelve Nebraska Probation Districts, recently adding Broken Bow and O'Neill, Nebraska. CJC also provides incarcerated persons and individuals under community supervision a powerful and effective "Crime Victims Impact Class" holding them directly accountable while reducing re-arrest rates. The classes require the individuals to take a leading role in their recovery addressing their behavioral health needs. The program results are clear: safer communities (less crime), reduced prison populations and saved tax dollars. The cost of the prison program is solely covered by Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc.

In addition to the successes, growth and impact of CJC, a recent Tech Asst. grant from the US Justice Department, with the help of Tom Cassidy, Lincoln Public Safety Director, will be utilized to deliver the CJC curriculum online nationwide.  Dennis E. McChargue, Ph.D. Associate Professor; University of Nebraska Department of Psychology added "From our evaluation, the CJC's Crime Victim Impact Class is highly impactful for those on probation.  I am very excited to be a part of developing an online version of this group that is specifically structured to increase motivation for pro-social behavior." of this group that is specifically structured to increase motivation for prosocial behavior.”

COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER, 5625 O Street Suite 114, Lincoln, NE. 68510

Contact Information:

Jim Jones

Community Justice Center

(402) 429-1050

National Disability Employment Awareness Month


Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc. is pleased to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October and embraces this year's theme: 'My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am'

This October, Goodwill Industries International will join the nation in acknowledging the importance of employees with disabilities — a vital component of the U.S. labor force — during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This year's celebration marks 70 years since President Truman authorized Congress to officially recognize workers with disabilities.

This year's theme, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor — "My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am" — underscores the fact that employees with disabilities bring a wide variety of skills to the table. They make up nearly 20 percent of America's workforce, yet their unemployment rate is more than twice that of workers without disabilities. It is crucial that American employers continue to make efforts to hire workers of all backgrounds and abilities.

For 113 years, Goodwill has worked tirelessly to support job seekers with disabilities and specialized circumstances through training, placement and employment efforts. The Goodwill 2015 Achiever of the Year and Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year award recipients exemplify the benefits of Goodwill's employment programs and highlight the achievements of both those currently enrolled and those who have gone on to independent success.

The Goodwill Industries International Achiever of the Year, Steve Hennessey, is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment. Hennessey lost his father at a young age and was placed in a home for people with intellectual disabilities after his mother was no longer able to care for him. Today, he lives independently and is known for his hard work and infectious smile at a federal building, part of a Goodwill Omaha, Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, custodial program, where he's worked since the age of 20. "I just like to work," said Hennessey.  "I want to work a long time." Click here to view a video about Steve.

The Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year award honors a person who has completed a Goodwill career program and found success with a non-Goodwill employer. Archie Gibbs, the 2015 honoree, couldn't be more worthy of the designation. After experiencing profound hearing loss as a child and enduring an abusive family situation and life in the foster care system, he arrived at Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia (Macon) in 1998 to receive career training. There, he rose through the ranks of the Goodwill’s custodial service training program, and today he and his wife, Chericah, own and operate Coleman Cleaning Service, providing residential and office cleaning. "I never thought I [would] be where I am today if I didn’t have faith, God and Goodwill in my life," said Gibbs. Click here to view a video about Archie.

"Supporting the needs of job seekers of varying needs and abilities is at the core of what we do at Goodwill every day," said Aubry Worrall, Employment Specialist of Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc. "We are so pleased to celebrate the achievements of Goodwill program participants, and all employees with disabilities, during National Disability Employment Awareness Month."

For more information about how your donations help us support employees with disabilities in obtaining meaningful employment, visit our website at www.lincolngoodwill.org.

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