From Jeans to Jobs: What Happens to Your Goodwill Donation?

With spring cleaning in full swing, there are countless destinations for your gently used items. So why donate to Goodwill?

Lincoln Goodwill is more than just a network of thrift stores; we’re a locally operated organization that connects job seekers to employment opportunities. To celebrate National Goodwill Week, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look into our donation process. In just five steps, here’s how we turn jeans into jobs:

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Celebrate Earth Day With Goodwill

Celebrate Earth Day With Goodwill

By Alana Sesow

Every April 22nd, people all around the globe gather to celebrate Earth Day and promote a greener way of life. With over 1 billion participants per year, Earth Day is now recognized as the largest secular observance in the world.

To celebrate, Lincoln Goodwill has created a list of practical ways you can help the environment today and every day. As you complete these activities – or invent your own — remember to snap a photo and post your good work on social media with the hashtag #SustainableGood!

1. Shop thrift.

Thrifting isn’t just fun; it’s environmentally friendly, too. According to Business Insider, it takes 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton t-shirt, and 2,000 gallons to produce one pair of jeans. On the other hand, Goodwill uses 0 gallons of water to put a donation on the sales floor. When you buy used instead of new, you help preserve natural resources and keep our planet healthy.

2. Recycle your electronics.

Instead of throwing away the electronics you no longer use, drop them off at the nearest Goodwill. Thanks to our partnership with Dell Reconnect, all technology donated to Goodwill is either resold, refurbished, or responsibly recycled. Learn more about Goodwill and Dell’s fight against e-waste here.

3. Repurpose old household items.

Save money and the environment by upcycling commonly trashed items. In a few easy steps, you can turn an old cereal box into a magazine holder, an empty pill bottle into a survival kit and a tin can into a festive vase. You can also revive an old piece of furniture with a fresh coat of paint, as shown above. Browse our Pinterest boards for more ideas.

4. Donate textiles.

Every year, up to 85% of textiles end up in landfills. When you skip the dumpster and donate to Goodwill instead, your textiles are given a second chance at life through our retail stores. Additionally, textiles that do not meet our production standards are responsibly recycled. Learn more about our environmental impact here.

5. Celebrate with CHaRM.

Round up your hard-to-recycle materials and get ready for the Nebraska Recycling Council’s CHaRM Event! On Saturday, April 24th, the NRC is teaming up with Goodwill and other local recycling organizations to collect electronics, scrap metal, documents for shredding, EPS foam, batteries, textiles and housewares. Donors can drop off materials from 9am to 1pm at the Nebraska Innovation campus. For more information and a full list of accepted materials, click here.

Goodwill Campus Move-Out 2021: 5 Reasons To Donate

Goodwill Campus Move-Out 2021: 5 Reasons To Donate

By Alana Sesow

Congratulations, college students: you’re almost done with the spring semester! To celebrate your hard work, Lincoln Goodwill is teaming up with Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to lighten your load – literally – as you move out of the dorms.

From April 26th to May 10th (UNL) or April 23rd to May 12th (NWU), Goodwill will place collection bins inside all residence halls as a part of our 2021 Campus Move-Out drive. Here are five reasons why you should take advantage of this opportunity:

  1. It’s convenient. During the busiest time of the semester, you can donate items to Goodwill without ever leaving your residence hall. This means you’ll have extra time to study (or nap) as finals week approaches.
  2. Decluttering can help you study for finals. Research has shown that people who work in uncluttered spaces are more focused, more productive, and better able to process information. So, if you have items sitting on your desk that you don’t need, donate them! Your brain – and your GPA – will thank you.
  3. You’ll save space in your vehicle. After cramming for finals, the last thing you want to do is cram extra items into your car. Before you turn your move-out into a jigsaw puzzle, consider donating what you no longer need. If you won’t use it, you shouldn’t have to pack it.
  4. Donating is environmentally friendly. When you donate to Goodwill, your items are sold in our retail stores and given a second chance at life. Items that do not meet our production standards are responsibly recycled. In 2020 alone, Lincoln Goodwill diverted 2.2 million pounds of materials from the landfill. Learn more about our environmental impact here.
  5. Your donations create jobs. Sales from our retail stores help fund Goodwill’s Job Connection center: a free computer lab in downtown Lincoln that provides one-on-one assistance to local job seekers. Alongside Job Connection, Goodwill’s ROE program and partnership with other Lincoln nonprofits allows us to better serve individuals with disabilities and other traditional barriers to employment.

Goodwill accepts gently used furniture, clothing, electronics, and home goods, but cannot accept microwaves or TVs. We can also accept and responsibly recycle some items that don’t meet our sales standards, such as stained/torn textiles and broken electronics. Click here for a more comprehensive list of accepted donations. For more information about Goodwill Campus Move-Out 2021, email donate@lincolngoodwill.org or call 402-742-8456.

Upcycled Spring Style Inspiration With Goodwill Finds

By Felicia Czochanski

The days when it stays light out later make my heart happy, as spring slowly but surely begins to sneak into the cold winter weeks. Spring, is most certainly on its way, and with it a range of new fashion trends to get excited about.

There’s another reason I love this slow transition of seasons – and that’s because it’s the time when most people will start to clean out their closets and think about donating to stores like Goodwill. I find that I have the best Goodwill shopping hauls during these transition times and whether or not the style of clothing is still en vogue, the fabric can be impeccable and perfect for repurposing.

But back to fabrics – there are so many reasons to shop second hand and give clothes new life. Whether you’ve decided to shop more sustainably, reduce your environmental footprint, or know that shopping at stores like Goodwill can actually benefit your community by providing funding for essential jobs and training, shopping second hand can truly be a win-win. At the same time, it’s also a great way to bring out your creative and crafty side – whether you’ve used your extra time at home during the pandemic to hone your sewing skills, or are just now feeling inspired to pick up a pair of scissors, a needle and thread and see what happens. Not only will you give great clothes a new life by upcycling them to align with today’s top trends, but you’ll be able to tout the fact that you’re wearing a one-of-a-kind garment that was made for you, by you. And how cool is that?!

Below, we’re sharing some of our favorite upcycled spring trend inspiration. As you upcycle your own Goodwill hauls, share the results on Instagram and be sure to tag us to possibly be featured in a future blog!


Photo: @butterfly_and_sparrow

1. Boho Beautiful

The tides have turned and it’s out with form fitting skinny jeans and in with loose and flowy styles like in this gorgeous bohemian look. This Goodwill shopper repurposed the fabric of this skirt which she purchased as a two-piece set, and altered it to better fit her shape. I love the button detailing down the front of the skirt and the slit at the bottom, giving her the power to show off her legs and her shoes while still looking and feeling comfy.


Photo: @calioclothing

2. Double Take: Pretty Prints

Take-two! This mother-daughter duo will be turning heads in this popping, pretty floral print. This budding designer shops for all of her fabrics second hand at stores like Goodwill, and repurposes them into stunning, on-trend styles like these. Her outfit with the loose fitting pants and bandeau top looks like a spring staple, alongside her chunky and square-shaped sandals that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this season.


Photo: Refashionista.net

3. Time Travel: Square Neck

This thrifty upcycling queen found herself a $1 Goodwill bin steal when she came across the original dress in the picture on the left. She turned it from a well-made 80’s creation to a 50’s style frock, keeping the square neck detail consistent as she transformed the original material into her new dress. The square neck is something we’ve seen a lot of this past year, and will continue to see into the spring. As you think about neckline trends, another big one will be corset-style tops – so as bottoms get looser, tops may get tighter!

Lincoln Goodwill Hosts 9th Annual Neighborhood Challenge

Lincoln Goodwill Hosts 9th Annual Neighborhood Challenge

by Alana Sesow

The snow is melting, the trees are budding, and garage sale season is just around the corner!

From the decluttering process to the final bargain, holding a garage sale is hard work. So when the sun sets on the final sale, the last thing people want to do is haul their unsold items back inside.

Fortunately, Goodwill can help.

Lincoln Goodwill’s 9th annual Neighborhood Challenge provides a free, centralized pickup of unsold items after neighborhood-wide garage sales or cleanup events. After pickup, Goodwill weighs the donations, and the three neighborhoods that collect the most weight exceeding 2,000 pounds receive a cash prize.

Since 2013, Goodwill has awarded over $8,000 to top-performing neighborhoods. These prizes helped fund a variety of improvement projects, ranging from landscaping to neighborhood events. So far, 23 neighborhoods have participated in the Challenge and diverted a total of 146,689 pounds of materials from the local landfill.

Think your neighborhood has what it takes? Be the next to join the Challenge by calling 402-742-8456 or emailing donate@lincolngoodwill.org. Register early to ensure availability; spots fill up quickly! Click here to learn more.

If you are holding a garage sale, but aren’t participating in the Neighborhood Challenge, schedule a free home pickup online or call 402-438-2022. Goodwill picks up large donations for free within Lincoln and Waverly city limits.

Goodwill Recycles 5,054 Pounds at Electronics Drive

Goodwill Recycles 5,054 Pounds at Electronics Drive

by Alana Sesow

On Saturday January 9th, Lincoln Goodwill held its fourth annual Electronics Drive to celebrate National Technology Week. Thanks to the generosity of over 100 donors, Goodwill collected 5,054 pounds of donations: its second-highest pounds received for an electronics drive.

All donations, from the smallest battery to the bulkiest computer, were either resold, refurbished, or responsibly recycled through Goodwill’s partnership with Dell Reconnect.

First-time donor Sherri Macfee was excited to learn about the convenience and benefits of electronic recycling at Lincoln Goodwill. After reading Goodwill’s blog post, she gathered her family’s old laptops, DVD players, Wi-Fi router, and phones for donation.

“It felt good to know I was helping out just by donating our unused items,” Macfee said. “It was super easy to pull right up to the truck, which was easy to find in the parking lot. Great helpers met us to unload our items, and that was it. We were done.”

Additionally, Goodwill prioritized the health of donors in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by holding the drive in a spacious, outdoor location.

“We wanted to make sure that donors would feel safe while dropping off their electronics,” said Anne-Marie Maher, Communications Director at Lincoln Goodwill. “The parking lot at our Vine Street location allowed us to be outside and spread out if more than one donor came at a time.”

Lincoln Goodwill accepts electronic donations year-round at all retail locations and plans on hosting its next electronics drive in August 2021. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on upcoming events.

Santiago Inches Closer to Eagle Scout Rank with Service Project for Lincoln Goodwill

Santiago Inches Closer to Eagle Scout Rank with Service Project for Lincoln Goodwill

By Anne-Marie Maher

Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc. installed two hand washing stations on December 28 into their stores at 6300 Apples Way and 4555 Vine Street with the goal to give customers and employees more opportunities to sanitize. The stations were built as a community service project for Troop 282 Boy Scout, Anthony Santiago.

Anthony began the service project with his sights set on stepping closer to the Eagle Scout Rank. To achieve this, he would need to earn 21 merit badges, be active in his troop for at least six months as a Life Scout, complete a community service project and various other accomplishments.

After dedicating years to the Scouts, Anthony developed the leadership skills he would need to execute this task successfully.

Anthony started his Scout journey in first grade after learning about the Cub Scout program during an elementary school assembly. His passion and dedication showed early on when he was able to transition to Boy Scout a year early after earning his Arrow of Light Badge.

Throughout the years, he learned a range of skills from survival and camping to financial literacy.

“At first, it’s more just skill learning,” Anthony said. “You learn how to tie knots, build a fire and cook food. Eventually, you transition to more leadership skills or giving back to the troop in a sense. The requirements are more service oriented.” 

His expertise was put to the test on a group hiking trip through Philmont Scout Ranch – a trip that Anthony described as the pinnacle of his scouting career.

The small group of five scouts and two adults trekked through New Mexico with 60 pounds on their backs. They used many skills learned in scouting, including how to distribute weight properly, guide themselves through 90 miles of backcountry for two weeks, and administer first aid. Hector was one of the adults that attended the trip.

He said, “What I saw there was a culmination of all of the leadership skills and actually being able to use the survival skills and scouting skills that he had learned.”

In the summer of 2020, Anthony began searching for a service project to complete for his Eagle Scout Rank. He had various ideas, including building an agility course at a dog park and creating a music exhibit with parks and recreation. Then, Goodwill expressed a need for hand washing stations in their stores.

“There came a point where I had to appraise the utility of what I was doing. I could either fulfill this need or keep looking for something that maybe wasn’t really necessary,” Anthony said. “Considering how topical it is, Goodwill came out on top.”

Goodwill’s Communications Director, Anne-Marie Maher added, “We have been thrilled to collaborate with Anthony in these past few months. Not only does this project develop Anthony’s ability to create and lead a large project from start to finish, but it also fulfills a need in our Goodwill stores during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Once Anthony gathered all signatures needed and had the project approved, he started planning the build for both stations. With help from his father, they outlined how the entire mechanism would operate, what materials to use, and more.

Creating the foot pump was the most difficult part for him, but he accepted the challenge.

Hector added, “The challenge was that essentially we made a sink on wheels, and he came up with that mechanism of a retractable pump.”

Anthony and his father would stay up late for several nights cutting wood and frames, making pocket holes and preparing the project for a troop workday with seven other scouts and twelve people overall.

Hector added, “There was a lot of preparation at the beginning and then a lot of quality control at the end.”

They were able to build the entire frame of both stations on that day.

Anthony said, “I had the younger scouts assemble plumbing because they couldn’t do as much with the power tools. They spearheaded the plumbing and made sure that it worked. I think they had a lot of fun testing it out.”

Most of the materials for the project were donated by businesses in the Lincoln area, such as Home Depot and Lowes, and by family members.

“I’m really proud of what he’s done. Essentially 75-80% of everything was donated,” Hector said.

He also used recycled materials for the project.

The stations are currently being offered to customers and employees as an extra opportunity to sanitize at the front of the store.

With this project completed, Anthony is well on his way to Eagle Scout Rank. His goal is to earn the accomplishment by this spring.

Celebrate National Technology Day with Goodwill

Celebrate National Technology Day with Goodwill

By Alana Sesow

Feeling tangled up in a mess of cords? Weighed down by used appliances? Looking to donate the electronics you replaced this holiday season? Donate to Goodwill’s fourth annual Electronics Drive on Saturday, January 9 at 4555 Vine Street from 10AM to 2PM. Help us promote responsible recycling AND celebrate National Technology Week.
Although trashing your technology might be a tempting solution, here are three reasons why Lincoln Goodwill is the best donation destination for your electronics: 

  1. Your donations fund employment services. Goodwill believes in the power of work, especially following a tough financial year for many individuals. When you choose to donate your gently used electronics to Goodwill, the sales from your donations help fund local employment services, like our Job Connection site in downtown Lincoln. Thanks to your generosity, Goodwill is able to assist individuals with resume creation, computer skills, and more to maximize their employability. Learn more about Goodwill’s commitment to willing workers here.
  2. Electronic recycling boosts the economy. Goodwill’s partnership with Dell Reconnect ensures that all electronic donations are either resold, refurbished, or responsibly recycled. Instead of trashing the technology that does not meet our retail standards, Goodwill sends it to Dell for careful dismantling. Dell then uses the broken-down parts to build and sell new products, which boosts the economy by significantly cutting manufacturing costs.
  3. Goodwill reduces e-waste in the environment. By donating your electronics to Goodwill, you help fight our global e-waste problem. According to a United Nations report, the world generated about 118 billion pounds of e-waste in 2019 alone. Unfortunately, only 20% of annual e-waste is responsibly recycled, while the other 80% either sits in landfills or is irresponsibly broken down by informal recycling operations. Some informal recyclers immediately sort electronics into either metal or plastic recycling instead of depolluting hazardous substances and salvaging precious materials. In worst-case scenarios, companies export e-waste to developing countries, where self-employed recyclers burn, leach, and melt electronics. During this process, the recycler releases toxins which harm both the environment and the health of individuals in the area. When you donate your electronics to Goodwill instead, you decrease this harm through the power of reselling, repurposing, and responsible recycling.

We accept most electronics and small appliances, but we cannot take any microwaves or televisions at this time. If you are unable to attend our event, Lincoln Goodwill accepts electronic donations year-round at all retail stores. Email alana@lincolngoodwill.org with questions or call 402-438-2022 ext. 119. 

Lincoln Goodwill Announces Eighth Annual Neighborhood Challenge Winners

LINCOLN – Lincoln Goodwill wrapped up another exciting year of their Neighborhood Challenge. The Challenge collected 10,099 pounds of donations with seven neighborhood associations in participation.

Goodwill would like to thank Belmont, Edenton North, Forest Lake Estates, Irvingdale, North Hills and Witherbee neighborhoods for their participation and flexibility through the Neighborhood Challenge’s reorganization due to COVID-19.  

This year’s first place winner is the Highlands Neighborhood Association with 4,100 pounds of donations collected. The Highlands is no stranger to the Neighborhood Challenge; this is their 7th year of participation.

Myrna Coleman, Highlands Neighborhood Association President, detailed how the prize will contribute to the improvement on their neighborhood. Previously, they have used the prize to assist in Eagle Scout projects that improve the neighborhood. One Scout was able to plant trees in the Highlands Park with funding from the prize and a grant from the city of Lincoln. This year, they plan to post various options in their newsletter for neighborhood improvements. The options include upgrading their playgrounds, creating a sign for the entrance or adding a fitness area to the park.

Coleman said, “The neighbors are grateful for the drive because it makes donating convenient. Instead of having to make multiple trips to Goodwill, they are able to donate within their neighborhood.”

Since the inception of the Neighborhood Challenge, over 140,000 pounds of donations have been collected and $8,500 has been given to neighborhoods to strengthen their associations.

Goodwill thanks donors for their flexibility as they continue to connect people to jobs and job skills in the Lincoln community. For more information about the Neighborhood Challenge and how to get involved in Goodwill donation drives, email donate@lincolngoodwill.org.