Nickum wins $100 Goodwill gift card, donates clothing to Culler Clothing Closet

CULLER MIDDLE SCHOOL — Years of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Halloween costume creations set the foundation for Jessica Nickum to tackle her biggest challenge yet: Culler Middle School’s Ugliest Holiday Sweater Contest. The 6th-8th grade teacher was incentivized to compete by the grand prize of fancy coffee and bragging rights against her fellow coworkers.

“I had been dressed up as an elf on the shelf previously and everyone kept saying that there was no way that I would top that outfit,” Nickum said.

Nickum racked her brain to think of something creative, homemade and affordable. While looking at her kitchen Christmas tree made of tomato cage and garland, the idea came to make herself into a walking Christmas tree. Nickum bought the base of her costume, a green dress, online and small, unbreakable decorations at her local Dollar Tree.

“If I was going to wear it around students and perform my job, I would need to be fairly flexible while wearing it,” Nickum said.

Once all the materials were gathered, Nickum and her mother worked to glue the decorations on the dress while Nickum wore it.

She added, “This was the best way to know where to put things and see how it would actually look when we were done.”

The DIY masterpiece came to life, completed with red and gold garland, ornaments, bows and a candy cane headband to top it all off.

She wore the costume to school and impressed students and faculty with her creativity for the second year in a row and won Culler’s 2019 Ugliest Holiday Sweater Contest. Soon after, Nickum caught word of Goodwill’s 3rd Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest with the prize of a $100 gift card.

Some people might have thought to take the opportunity to pamper themselves with a day of shopping, but Nickum wanted to do something more with the gift card.

Nickum explained, “At Culler, we have a clothing closet that is open to all students for several different needs. Sometimes students can’t afford clothes, sometimes they have the unfortunate case of the split pants or shirt. This closet ensures that students’ basic needs for clothing are being met.”

The Junior League is the main support of the clothing closet, but staff often pitch in whenever they can. Unfortunately, at this time of year, the closet begins to go bare.

In order to win Goodwill’s contest, contestants needed to receive the most likes on their submission photo on Facebook. Voters appreciated both Nickum’s DIY skills and her generous spirit. She won the contest with a whopping 178 likes.

Nickum said, “I love what my students bring to me every day, and I sleep better knowing when their needs are being met. Giving the gift card to the clothing closet is a way to help support our kids in an economically feasible way.”

Nickum plans to buy clothing during Goodwill’s $0.99 Clothing Sale in order to get the best use out of the gift card.

She added, “We are hoping that it replenishes what we are in need of and that the closet once again looks full.”

The Start of the New Decade Is a Great Time to Get Organized and Help Others Do the Same

Perhaps you’ve heard someone quip in recent days that 2020 is the Year of the Optometrist. Get it? As in 20/20 vision, a measure of normal visual acuity. But 2020 represents more than good vision, it’s the start of a new decade! For you, that might mean a fresh set of New Year’s goals, as well as a round of resolutions for what you wish to accomplish for the next ten years. It’s certainly a great opportunity to think about the old, the now and the new.

It’s no coincidence that January is Get Organized Month, also known as GO Month. At Goodwill®, getting organized is a big deal. We know how important organization is when someone is looking for a new job, whether they are entering the job market for the first time, looking to advance their career, or perhaps reentering the job market after a period of absence.

Goodwill believes in the power of work to transform lives, families and communities. We work every day to help others get organized with the job skills, career direction and supportive services they need to get ahead. But even if you already have a good job, 2020 is still a great chance for you to get organized and help others in the process. By taking inventory of the things around your house, figuring out what you use and want to keep, and then donating those used items you no longer need, you’re assisting others as they seek to reach their full potential.

This month, why not rethink your own home organization with a long-term perspective? Here’s how:

1) Look back: Do you have a digital camera you haven’t touched in 10 years? A set of china that’s been gathering dust since early in the millennium? What about long-outgrown baby clothes? By letting go of what you no longer use, you can gain a clear outlook in your home and your life.

2) Look forward: Many people resolve to start a new hobby in a new year. Perhaps you’ve picked one that requires a bit of space now, and even more down the line. Make room for crafting, woodworking, pickling, home brewing — or whatever your new hobby might be — by reclaiming your underutilized basement or garage. Envision how you’ll use your hobby space in the years to come, so you can get organized for the future.

3) Stay present: As we move through the new year, take a clear-eyed look each day at those things around your house or apartment that you really use. When you allow yourself some time for reflection on what you need — or don’t need — right now, you’ll land on a clear vision for what you can let go of.

After you give your home a look with “2020 vision,” you’ll be in a perfect position to donate unwanted and unneeded clothing and household items to Goodwill. Those items can then be sold to help fund Goodwill’s skills, job and career services. Not only will your efforts help you be better organized, they’ll help someone else in your community do the same.

Here’s to a great year, a productive decade, and a new vision for being better organized.