Upgrade Your Halloween With Four Spooky Goodwill DIYs

Upgrade Your Halloween With Four Spooky Goodwill DIYs

By Alia Hurst and Alana Sesow

Looking for unique Halloween décor? Visit your nearest Goodwill! Sometimes you can score big with original items, but creators and artists who practice sustainable thrift flips use their talent to showcase a cost-effective option of decorating your home for spooky season. Try the following ideas or create your own, and remember to tag Goodwill in your final photos for a chance to be featured on our social media pages.

So head to Goodwill, grab some craft supplies and let’s get to it!

1. Halloween Gallery Wall.

Jennifer found a variety of art pieces at her local Goodwill and used spooky add-ons to create a Halloween gallery wall. She starts with a vintage painting of a woman and adds plastic snakes and a black frame to transform her into a spooky medusa. Thrift as many art pieces as you want to create a picture-perfect display for your haunted home. The possibilities are endless!

2. Animated Spell Book

Inspired by Hocus Pocus, the Wicked Makers used tissue paper and Mod Podge to turn a gently used Goodwill book into a magic spell book with an animated eye. Grab your sisters for coordinated witches costumes, or simply add this book to your existing Halloween display!

3. Elixir Bottles

Susan, the author and creator of Home Road, used resources from her local thrift store to create frightening elixir bottles. To execute this dead-easy DIY, pick up a few clear jars at your nearest Goodwill and add poisonous labels. Look for spooky stickers in Goodwill’s Bits & Pieces section or print your own at home. Add a few spiders or an eyeball to make them scarier, if you dare!

4. Animatronic Rocking Chair Witch

The Wicked Makers upgraded an already-frightening rocking chair witch using materials from their local Goodwill. With vintage clothing, boots, cloth, accessories, and a few additional craft supplies, you can create a unique porch decoration that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

Crafting with secondhand items doesn’t just add uniqueness to your Halloween; it also improves our community and planet. The revenue from Goodwill’s thrift stores in Lincoln and York helps fund a variety of employment services and programs in the Southeast Nebraska community. These services help local job seekers overcome traditional barriers to employment so they can find work, earn a consistent paycheck and achieve greater financial independence. In 2021 alone, Goodwill served over 3,500 job seekers in Southeast Nebraska and diverted over 2.3 million pounds from our local landfill.

For more DIY Halloween ideas, follow Lincoln Goodwill on Pinterest.

Four Easy Ways to Donate to Goodwill

Four Easy Ways to Donate to Goodwill

By Alia Hurst

Whether it’s spring cleaning, end of summer closet clean out or winter wardrobe inventory, every season is donation season. Goodwill provides several options to make the decluttering process easier. Here are four:

1. Schedule a free home pickup.

Donating large furniture items that can’t fit in your car? Schedule a free home pickup! Goodwill will drive to your residence, load your donations for free and provide a donation receipt for tax purposes. Fill out the online form on our website or call 402-438-2022 to get started. 

2. Participate in Goodwill’s Neighborhood Challenge.

This option is perfect for neighborhoods that host annual cleanups or garage sales. Each neighborhood that registers for Goodwill’s Neighborhood Challenge receives a free, centralized pickup after neighborhood-wide garage sales or clean-up events during the months of April-July. After pickup, Goodwill weighs the donations for each neighborhood. At the end of the Challenge, the three associations that collect the greatest weight of donations exceeding 2,000 pounds will win a cash prize to improve their neighborhood. Registration for next year’s Neighborhood Challenge opens in February.

3. Host a Goodwill donation drive.

Whether you’re a business, school, church, or community organization, Goodwill can help you organize a successful drive. Goodwill provides free donation bins, pickups when the bins are full, and marketing materials upon request. 

4. Take your donations to one of our stores.

Donors may bring their items to any of our Lincoln and York locations during open hours. Goodwill accepts most clothing, electronics and home goods in gently used condition or better. View a list of our accepted items here

Retail sales from your gently used donations will help fund local employment programs like our Job Connection Center: a free computer lab in downtown Lincoln that provides one-on-one assistance to job seekers of all backgrounds and abilities. Goodwill also proudly recycles many items that cannot be sold in our stores, such as torn textiles or broken electronics. For more information about how to donate contact donate@lincolngoodwill.org or 402-742-8456. 

Five Ways To Be More Sustainable This School Year

Five Ways To Be More Sustainable This School Year

By Alia Hurst

College is a crucial time to create good habits and begin conducting eco-friendly practices. “Going Green” as a college student might sound overwhelming due to financial limitations or just not knowing where to start. Whether you take big steps or small steps in becoming more aware and eco-friendly, you are inevitably protecting and preserving the planet.

Here are five suggestions to help you get started:

1. Pay Attention to Packaging and Bags

According to the Earth Policy Institute, 100 billion plastic bags and assorted packaging pass through the hands of U.S. consumers every year—which is almost one bag per person each day. The Environmental Protection Agency adds to that statistic by noting that in 2018, over three million tons of plastic packaging and bags were found in landfills. When running errands or getting groceries for the dorm or apartment, be sure to bring reusable bags or boxes to stray away from copious amounts of plastic waste. 

2. Unplug

College brings a lot of assignments and projects but with those come the technology required to complete them. On average, college students will bring seven tech devices to campus with them for either personal or educational use. It is important to be courteous of unplugging those devices when they’re not being used to preserve energy and power.

3. Use Reusable Bottles and Mugs

Instead of contributing to the packaging consumption issue, look into purchasing a refillable and reusable water bottle to carry around campus. This might not seem like a huge deal, but if a whole student body owned a reusable water bottle or coffee mug, plastic waste and consumption would inevitably decline, drastically.

4. Buy Secondhand

Goodwill’s five Southeast Nebraska locations make sustainable shopping easy for college students. In addition to buying clothes, students can purchase household items, décor, and everyday goods that have been gently used to cut down on the production of new resources and reduce waste. Additionally, when you are buying items secondhand, a good rule of thumb is to donate clothes or items as well. It is important to take inventory of what you need, what you don’t, and donate.

5. Walk

As often as you can, consider walking to events/class/work rather than driving. Walking can drastically decrease emissions while also providing you with exercise. This not only helps your health and the planet, but it also helps your pockets. Saving money in any capacity is crucial in college because the money saved from not buying fuel could go towards books, a meal at the cafeteria, or a coffee at the campus shop (in a reusable mug of course). For more sustainability tips, follow Lincoln Goodwill on social media and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Goodwill Announces Tenth Annual Neighborhood Challenge Winners

Goodwill Announces Tenth Annual Neighborhood Challenge Winners

By Alana Sesow

Goodwill celebrated another garage sale season by hosting its 10th annual Neighborhood Challenge. With 12 participating associations, Goodwill collected a total of 19,370 pounds of donations!

Goodwill’s Neighborhood Challenge gives Lincoln associations the opportunity to donate their gently used items after garage sales or clean-up events. The top three associations win a cash prize to help fund a neighborhood-improvement project of their choice.

The Highlands Neighborhood Association took first place with 3,842 pounds, followed closely by the Wilderness Hills Homeowners Association and the Wellington Greens Homes Association with 3,159 and 2,215 pounds, respectively.

Goodwill would like to thank all participating associations for generously supporting their mission: “Willing workers employed and community resources maximized.” For 90 years, Lincoln Goodwill has used the sale of donated goods to help local job seekers overcome obstacles, find work and gain financial independence. By funding a variety of employment services and programs in the community, Goodwill served over 3,500 individuals in Southeast Nebraska in 2021. Goodwill also recycles many donations that cannot be sold, diverting over two million pounds of materials from the local landfill per year.

To host a Goodwill donation drive or learn more about the next Neighborhood Challenge, call 402-742-8456 or email donate@lincolngoodwill.org. Goodwill’s 11th annual Neighborhood Challenge registration will open in February 2023.

Gen Z-Approved Outfits for Back to School, Y2K and Street Style Trends

Gen Z-Approved Outfits for Back to School, Y2K and Street Style Trends

By Felicia Czochanski

Y2K, the futuristic fashion trend from the late 90s and early 2000s is back, and an identifying factor of Gen Z. While it’s rare for millennials to get excited about a style based on low-rise pants and crop tops – after being spoiled for so long with high-waisted denim and leggings, Gen Z has been a champion of the trend that blends pop culture, neon colors, and vintage tech advancements, setting them apart. With the majority of Gen Z still in school or just starting their post-grad lives, it’s important to call out that both Y2K and Street Style looks are going to dominate back-to-school season this year.

 While Y2K might bring up nostalgia for movies like Clueless or Mean Girls, the Street Style trend gives off a more relaxed and almost care-free look. Street Style is rooted in comfort – baggy pants, including sweatpants, oversized graphic t-shirts (bonus points if they’re vintage) and fun, chunky sneakers. It’s a look that you can hangout in all day, no matter what your plans might be. Street Style is an elevated version of the ‘just rolled out of bed and I’m late for class’ look. Yet while the outfits under this trend look easy to pull together, there is some thought that needs to go into them to create that distinction that the look was intentional, versus the first pieces of clothing you pulled from your closet in a rush.

The great thing about both of these styles – in addition to what overlaps between them which are small and almost miniature accessories like purses and hair clips – is that everything was in style years ago already. Both Y2K and Street Style trends have been donated to Goodwill stores over the years, creating a stockpile of awesome vintage Juicy Couture, BCBG, and even Limited Too clothing that you are likely wishing you or your older sibling had the foresight to keep for yourself!

Wondering how you can integrate these trends into your back to school wardrobe? Check out the outfit inspiration sourced from real Goodwill shoppers, below!

1. Y2K Style

Neon checkerboard print is the epitome of Y2K style, especially for Gen Z. This outfit is rocking a lot of great trends – gold jewelry, a layered collared shirt with a fitted tank underneath, and the print that pulls it all together. From the classroom to the after-school clubs, this look is on-trend for back to school season. The second look brings together some of the best of Street Style, but from a Y2K lens! This outfit features the hot pink shorts, which are perfect for a statement piece, paired with a cropped t-shirt look. The way this Goodwill shopper is rocking her style, it fits the Y2K trend, but turn that top into an oversized t-shirt and those shorts into sweatpants, and you’ve got yourself a Y2K Street Style look – two trends in one!

2. Street Style… for Campus

Bringing your favorite Street Style looks to campus isn’t as hard as you might think. Pair an oversized t-shirt with bicycle shorts and sneakers for a comfy casual look that showcases your personality in addition to your mood. In the colder months, depending on where you’re heading off to school, this second look might be perfect for you. I’m obsessed with those comfy fuzzy sandals and the layered look with a flannel and baggy jeans. Back to school can bring enough stress into your life as you start managing your time and assignments, so let your outfit be a source of comfort that can get you through any study session.

Have a Goodwill haul that you’re really proud of? Tag us at @lincoln_goodwill in your next Instagram post or reel for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post or blog!

Goodwill Helps Job Seekers Overcome Employment Barriers Through New RentWise Classes

Goodwill Helps Job Seekers Overcome Employment Barriers Through New RentWise Classes

By Alana Sesow

Since 1932, Goodwill’s programs and services have helped Southeast Nebraskans overcome a variety of employment barriers. Now, Goodwill is expanding on those services with RentWise: a six-module class that helps individuals become good tenants so they can secure stable housing and stable jobs.

Housing is a common obstacle for job seekers today, according to Goodwill Employment Specialist Kate Shotkoski. In fact, she said it’s a number-one priority for many of her clients at Goodwill’s Job Connection Center.

“When an individual doesn’t have to worry about housing, it is so much easier to focus on work,” Shotkoski said. “Their outlook improves so much. It ties in so much with making sure they can stay employed.”

RentWise covers a variety of topics such as property upkeep, conflict resolution, the Landlord Tenant Act and how to spot housing discrimination. After completing Goodwill’s RentWise class, individuals receive certificates that they can present to potential landlords, showing that they have taken active steps to becoming a good tenant. This certificate is especially helpful to those who face traditional housing barriers, including justice-involved individuals, individuals who age out of the foster care system and new Americans.

Goodwill’s RentWise classes are currently offered to individuals served by Fresh Start. As staffing and resources allow, Goodwill hopes to expand the class to other local agencies. To learn more about Goodwill’s mission, programs and services, visit the Programs page and follow Lincoln Goodwill Job Connection on Facebook.

Eight Thrift Tips for Your Next Goodwill Trip

Eight Thrift Tips for Your Next Goodwill Trip

By Alana Sesow

Planning a Goodwill shopping spree? Whether you’re a first-time customer or a Goodwill pro, check out these eight tips for maximizing your thrift trip and finding the best secondhand treasures:

  • Make a plan. Goodwill sells almost any good-condition item you can find in your home, which means our inventory is large and diverse. Before you set foot in our store, know the purpose of your trip and plan accordingly. Decorating your new apartment? Head straight to our furniture and wares sections. Thrifting a formal outfit? Search our racks of dresses, blazers, slacks, shoes, and your favorite-colored tops. Looking for a fun way to pass the time with friends? Explore whatever catches your eye, or take the Goodwill Date Night Challenge.
  • Make time. Thrifting is a marathon, not a sprint. Because every item at Goodwill is unique, searching one rack of clothing or one shelf of home goods might take longer than it would at a retailer with mass-produced items. Expect your Goodwill outing to last longer than a trip to a typical retail store, and remember that patience and focus are key to discovering secondhand treasures.
  • Know the sales. No matter when you visit Goodwill, there’s always something on sale. Every day, Goodwill offers select clothing and wares at 50% off, indicated by the color on the price tag. Additionally, military members, students and seniors receive a 20% discount on certain weekdays, and Goodwill offers special sales and giveaways for our social media followers throughout the year.
  • Shop out of season. When temperatures reach triple digits, don’t be afraid to browse our outerwear section or search for your next pair of winter boots. Out-of-season items are frequently donated, but commonly overlooked when they reach the sales floor. You’ll be ready when the seasons change, and you might even find some brand-name or new-with-tags apparel along the way.
  • Shop outside your section. Remember that sizes vary from brand to brand, and there are a range of styles within both women’s and men’s clothing. Plus, mixing styles, colors and cuts is an easy way to update your wardrobe for the upcoming season. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
  • Get creative. You don’t need to have Martha Stewart skills to upcycle something from Goodwill. With a little bit of creativity, you can transform a teapot into a planter, a basket into wall décor, or a pair of jeans into a dog toy. Visit our Pinterest boards for more ideas.
  • Use the one-in, one-out rule. Every time you visit Goodwill, set a goal to donate at least as many items as you buy. Not only does donating reduce household clutter, but it also supports Goodwill’s programs and services that help local job seekers gain the skills they need for employment. Goodwill makes donating easy by accepting items at all Lincoln and York locations during store hours.
  • Visit often. At Goodwill, no two thrift trips are alike. Because our employees place new items on the sales floor every day, even back-to-back visits to the same Goodwill location can be unique. With five Lincoln and York stores open seven days a week, the possibilities are multiplied.

For more Goodwill thrift tips, news and sales, follow us on social media and subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Lincoln Goodwill Celebrates World Environment Day

Lincoln Goodwill Celebrates World Environment Day

By Payton Fallick

World Environment Day was formed on June 5th, 1974, and after nearly 50 years of celebration, has established itself as the largest platform for environmental public outreach in the world. This year, the celebration will be hosted in Sweden and follow the slogan #OnlyOneEarth, which is a renewal of the slogan utilized for the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972. This year, more than 150 countries are joining the cause as they strive for “collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet.”

Why Prioritize the Planet?

To keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to cut yearly greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. If the global warming temperature exceeds 1.5 degrees, weather catastrophes will increase, several species will be lost and 99% of coral reefs will be destroyed. As more areas become uninhabitable, people will be forced to relocate, which will put an irreversible strain on both the environment and our communities.

What Can You Do?

Donate your gently used items to Goodwill. On average, 81% of textiles end up in a landfill while only 19% are donated or recycled. When you donate to Goodwill, you give the items you once loved a second life and redirect them from nearly 200 years of sitting in a landfill. In 2021, Lincoln Goodwill diverted more than 2.3 million pounds of items from the local landfill and works to increase their recycling numbers every year.

Choose slow, sustainable fashion. Textiles account for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, and the fashion industry is the second-largest industrial polluter, just behind oil. The fast-fashion industry, in particular, encourages people to buy trendy items, which are often poorly made and quickly replaced. This forces individuals to buy new items at a faster rate as their older items fall apart, creating a cycle of pollution and harm. By shopping at secondhand stores like Goodwill instead, you’ll slow down production from the fast-fashion industry and decrease environmental harm. Plus, you’ll save money in the long run.

Cut waste in all areas of your life. Consume less and strive for sustainability, not only through your clothing choices, but through other avenues, too. Start small by bringing reusable bags when shopping and avoiding Styrofoam at fast-food restaurants. Or, take it to the next level by only purchasing zero-waste items and taking public transportation rather than personal vehicles. Whether you take small steps or larger actions, sustainable practices can be introduced in all facets of our lives. 

When we work together to live more sustainably, we can make a big difference. Find a Goodwill location near you and start living greener today.

Three Easy Ways to Donate Your Garage Sale Leftovers to Goodwill

Three Easy Ways to Donate Your Garage Sale Leftovers to Goodwill

By Alana Sesow

Garage sale season is here, which means it’s time to declutter your home and part ways with the things you no longer need. From the cleaning process to the final bargain, hosting a garage sale is hard work. So, when the sale ends, the last thing you want to do is haul the unsold items back inside.

Don’t let your leftover items sit around for another year; donate to Goodwill instead! Goodwill offers several free, convenient donation options for garage sale vendors. Here are three:

1. Donate to Goodwill’s Neighborhood Challenge

If you’re participating in a neighborhood-wide garage sale, ask your association about Goodwill’s Neighborhood Challenge!

The Neighborhood Challenge is an annual event that encourages associations to donate their gently used items to Goodwill after garage sales or cleanup events. Participating associations receive a free donation pickup at a centralized neighborhood location. After the pickup is over, Goodwill weighs the donations. At the end of the summer, the top three associations that collect over 2,000 pounds of donations will receive a cash prize to help fund a community improvement project of their choosing.

To find out if your neighborhood is participating, call 402-742-8456 or email donate@lincolngoodwill.org.

2. Schedule a Free Home Pickup

If you’re planning your sale individually or if your neighborhood is not participating in the Challenge, schedule a free home pickup for your Goodwill donations. Goodwill picks up large donations Monday-Friday within the Lincoln and Waverly city limits. This option is perfect for vendors whose items cannot fit in a regular passenger vehicle.

To schedule now, fill out our online form or call 402-438-2022.

3. Bring Donations to a Thrift Location

Goodwill makes donation drop off easy with five Southeast Nebraska locations: four in Lincoln and one in York. All five locations accept gently used clothing, electronics, home goods and furniture seven days a week during store hours. Visit the Find a Location page for specific hours and addresses.

No matter which donation method you choose, you’ll support Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through the power of work. The revenue from our thrift stores helps fund local programs that assist job seekers as they overcome traditional barriers to employment. We also recycle many of the items we cannot sell. In 2021 alone, Goodwill helped over 3,500 Southeast Nebraskans with employment-related services and diverted over 2.3 million pounds of materials from the landfill.

For more information about Goodwill’s donation services, email donate@lincolngoodwill.org or call 402-742-8456.

Goodwill Introduces New Partners to Rising Together™ this Week

Goodwill Introduces New Partners to Rising Together™ this Week

In the last two years, there has been a nationwide increase in labor shortages across a variety of industries. The preexisting skills gap, exacerbated by the pandemic, contributed to these labor shortages, and marginalized communities have experienced the most job insecurity and economic uncertainty. That’s why Goodwill® launched Rising Together™ last year with the goal of connecting more than one million people with sustainable careers by 2025.

Through this initiative, Goodwill partnered with the Anthem Foundation, Coursera, Indeed, Google and Lyft to provide workforce development programs across the nation in skilled trades, healthcare and technology/digital sectors. Job seekers — many of whom come from low-income backgrounds and don’t have access to supports such as skills building, child care, transportation or housing in some cases — have gained employment in new fields, experienced wage increases and enjoyed an overall improvement in the quality of their lives.

Trayvon Lowry is just one example of a multitude of individuals whose lives have improved following completion of Goodwill’s workforce development programs. Trayvon entered Goodwill of North Georgia’s program with a criminal background and graduated earlier this year with a forklift certification, a wage of $20/hour, and a pathway to move out of transitional housing and into his own apartment. He attributes his success to the support he received and the skills he gained at Goodwill.

Still, the economic recovery has not been equitable. More than 1.1 million fewer women are in the labor force than in February 2020, and the unemployment rate for Black women sits above the national average at 5.5 percent as of March 2022. To address the continued need to support individuals such as Trayvon in our communities, Goodwill is expanding the work of Rising Together™.

This week, Goodwill Industries Serving Southeast Nebraska, Inc. is announcing the addition of new partners to Rising Together™, including Accenture, Bank of America, Comcast Internet Essentials, Lowe’s and USAA. With these new partners, Goodwill and the Rising Together™ coalition will continue to drive an equitable economic recovery — beginning with providing every job seeker with the support they need to access good jobs, including skills training, transportation and internet access. To view Goodwill and its partners’ commitments to an equitable recovery and to hear from the coalition’s executives, visit Goodwill.org/Rising-Together.