Get Back to School with Goodwill

Get Back to School with Goodwill

LINCOLN – Over the next few weeks, students of all ages will be returning to school. Whether you are enrolled in grad school or your little one is heading off to kindergarten, thrift shopping for your back-to-school needs is the best way to stick to a budget and prepare yourself for the year ahead. Check out these five tips for shopping smart.

Five Back to School Shopping Tips

Know Before You Go

Before doing any back to school shopping, take inventory of what you already have. Grab any storage bins where you keep clothes for the next season or the next size up.  Do a sweep of your house for all of the supplies you already have – pens, pencils, staples, paper or whatever is on the list.

Once you have an inventory, decide what your kids actually need. It might sound simple, but this will keep you from buying the wrong things and forgetting the things that are needed.

Know Where To Go

Before buying brand new, save money and be sustainable by shopping at Goodwill. Take advantage of sales and discounts to get the most out of your money. Goodwill has jeans, shirts, socks, shoes, backpacks, school supplies and more for students of all ages. Find your nearest location here:

Search For “Double Season” Pieces

Find clothing that will outlast the changing seasons. Look for items that will be great on their own or layered on top or under other pieces. For example, find a skirt that will keep cool in the August heat, but can also be paired with a sweater and tights in the winter. Search for items that have great “bones” (good lining, great durable fabric) and think of ways to use it for more than one season.

Shop the Racks in Various Sizes and Departments

You might be surprised at what you can find in the sections you don’t normally shop. For example, instead of only focusing on the children’s section, opt for the extra small sizes in the adult section.

College students should peek at the selection in both the men’s department and the women’s department. Many items (sweaters, hoodies, t-shirts, turtlenecks, blazers, etc.) are not gender specific and you may score a nice, unexpected find. Don’t be afraid to shop outside of your normal size range either. Items in larger sizes may have shrunk so much that they would fit a smaller sized person perfectly. Likewise, some items just run big — so peeking through the smaller sizes, you just might find something that fits.

Take Your Time

Patience is a virtue when it comes to thrift store shopping. If you really want the best deals and hidden treasures, then spend your time hunting through all of the items on the racks rather than skimming through them. Make it fun by putting on your headphones and listen to a podcast or your favorite music.

Meaningful Employment: The Difference Between Night and Day

Meaningful Employment: The Difference Between Night and Day. The Story Behind the Vine Street Goodwill Mural.

Written by Hannah Casey

The month of March felt more like 100 days than 31 with new COVID-19 guidelines first taking effect. Goodwill stores voluntarily closed to follow state and local government recommendations for social distancing.

The extra time allowed employees to deep clean each store. It also presented the opportunity for reflection.

While at the Vine Street location, the discussion arose of the beautiful mural on the East wall. Wendy Jane Bantam, a local mural artist, created the mural at the store’s grand opening in 1998.

The mural project began when the current Retail Director approached Bantam to create an art piece for the grand opening of the Vine Street location. Bantam was given the prompt, “Believe in the Power of Work”.

Bantam had a personal connection to believe in the power of work. Her mother, a single parent with two kids, taught her the value of work ethic from a young age.

Bantam explained, “She always taught, ‘You need to go to college, but I won’t be able to help you go to college so you need to start working now.’ I got a paper route which I had from the time I was 10 ‘til I was 17. She introduced me to a stock broker when I was 10 to invest my money. I was ten years old so I invested in Hersheys and Smuckers. Then, when I was 14 and 15, I was able to get other jobs around town so I started working all of the time.”

Bantam presented the Retail Director with three different paintings to choose from based on the prompt and what inspired her as an artist. Bantam was in her early 20’s and this would be the biggest project she had completed to date.

She said, “I was painting houses at the time and I always loved nature. I always liked the idea of little roads going off into the distance..they suggest happy possibilities. You never know what’s around the corner. The imagery from the mural came from open ideas like that.”

After the Retail Director chose her favorite piece from the three sketches, Bantam set out to transfer the mural from paper onto the wall. Goodwill set up scaffolding to allow Bantam to safely paint from a height. Bantam utilized a projector to ensure the letters were even and created the rest of the piece free hand.

The art piece that has now colored the East wall at the Vine Street Goodwill for over 20 years is painted with houses and roads, with half the scene lit and half dark.

Representing morning and evening. Bantam titled the piece, “Meaningful Employment: The Difference Between Night and Day.”

Since that time, her art work has become prominent throughout Lincoln from the “Two Elephants and the Kingfisher Near the Lotus Blossom Sea” mural on 27th and T to the mural she created for Lincoln Public Schools. You can visit her work at Kiechel Gallery where she recently had a solo painting exhibition appropriately titled,”Birds and Superheroes”.

With COVID-19 shifting the day to day routines of many people’s lives, Bantam hopes to create unity with a mural about community and friendship. She has partnered with Girls Inc. of Lincoln to hear stories from students. This mural is based on the stories told. 

She stated, “This year, teaching artists had many wonderful projects planned with youth in Lincoln and surrounding communities. However, in the pandemic, all programs abruptly ended. There was no longer funding, and we couldn’t seem to go forward. Regardless, it seemed more important than ever to continue forward, by any means possible, to create positive experiences for youth. I would not be able to do it alone. The best projects have been large scale public projects where everyone has a part.”

Bantam feels strongly that the community needs art now more than ever.

She said, “People are getting down; and that’s just such a small word for the hopelessness people are feeling right now. When they can come together and they can work on a project together it’s actually connecting people and giving them a sense of ownership of their communities. The actual process of working together has a healing effect, as does the art itself. People get to see they are a part of a bigger picture and it’s empowering.”

To support the Community Mural Project, visit Wendy’s GoFundMe here:

To stay up to date with her projects, visit her facebook page here and her website here