Being Thankful

This week we spent some time asking fellow employees what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Many were thankful for family, friends, their job.  But one response really spoke to me and the work that we do each and every day at Goodwill . . .

“I’m thankful for Goodwill giving me a second chance.”

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Goodwill team for over 11 years now.  I’ve met so many people who have changed their lives through hard work, determination, and the support of both Goodwill programs and our staff.  Our Goodwill staff provides not only their support, expertise, and guidance but also their love and compassion.  It is truly more than a job for them. . . it is a calling.

A couple of months ago we filmed Hank’s story.  When we do these types of videos we sit with those being interviewed and ask questions just to get them talking.  Fanee, who works with individuals that we serve who receive Medicaid Waiver funding, was scheduled to be interviewed as part of Hank’s video.  Her role was to explain the program and to tell us a little about working with Hank.  We were all inspired by what happened next . . .

So as Thanksgiving approaches I am thankful for my loved ones, but I’m also grateful for everyone that comes to work each day at Goodwill, just like I do.   Together we provide individuals the second chances they deserve.  We help people achieve the pride, dignity, and self respect that comes from earning a paycheck or simply by treating others as they wish to be treated so they can achieve their greatest independence.

From our Goodwill family to yours . . . Happy Thanksgiving.



Vote for your favorite finalist in the Goodwill Halloween Costume contest!

To all the superheroes, pirates, fairies and other creative costume artists out there: You are awesome! Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Goodwill DIY Halloween Costume contest. We had an amazing response, receiving nearly 40 entries that showed your creativity and individuality. Our judges had an extremely difficult time narrowing the entries down to 3 finalists. Visit our Facebook Page to see all submissions.

We used two independent panels for the selection. The first panel of judges narrowed all the entries down to 15 that demonstrated the most original and creative use of Goodwill-purchased materials. Then a second panel was given those 15 from which to choose the three finalists. It was a difficult job, but so much fun! Now, you get to pick the winner! The top three costumes, in no particular order, are:

finalist-mermaid-web    finalist-mac-n-cheese-web    finalist-pirate-web


Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote. You, your friends, and family can vote once per day from Noon, Thursday, October 28 through Noon, Monday, October 31. Winners will be announced on Halloween afternoon, October 31. Read more about each of our three finalists’ costumes below.

Pirate – Submitted by Michael W.


Michael W. crafted nearly all of his Pirate costume with items from Goodwill! He found a floppy garden hat that he molded and shaped into his pirate hat. The shirt and several of the other clothing pieces were cut and sewn from skirts, pants, and other Goodwill items. Michael even made the boot tops from an old leather satchel he found at Goodwill.

Mac & Cheese – Submitted by Chloe C.


Chloe and her mom found a hula hoop they used for the top part of the bowl and a blue blanket for the cup at one of our Goodwill Outlets. They found the pool noodles at the Outlet for the macaroni and cheese and a yellow t-shirt for underneath. Chloe wanted to be Mac & Cheese for Halloween because it is her favorite food!

Mermaid Illusion Costume – submitted by Addison S.


Addison wanted an optical illusion costume for Halloween this year, so she and her dad started by creating the pirate using items from Goodwill. They used a belt from Goodwill to attached the cooler to Addison. They already had the tail which they stuffed and attached to the cooler. Her dad says Addison hopes she’ll get double the candy this year… “some for her and some for Blackbeard!”


1st prize: Apple iPad mini
2nd prize: $50 Goodwill Gift Card
3rd prize: $25 Goodwill Gift Card

Click here to view more information about our Costume Contest and the Terms & Conditions.

Voting will end this Friday, October 31 at Noon.  Be sure to tell your friends and family to vote!

Halloween’s Gone to the Dogs!

Halloween was so much fun when my son was younger. We would spend weeks leading up to the big day planning his costume.  There were dinosaurs, ninjas, race car drivers and more over the years.  But suddenly the fun stopped.  He was too old and too cool for Halloween.  I was devastated.  I looked at all the little ghouls and goblins that would come to the door on Halloween, envious of their parents who could still take part in the excitement of finding the perfect Halloween costume.  Little did I know that my days of dressing my baby weren’t over!

Today, I am looking forward to dressing my four legged baby again for Halloween!  Bentley is my 3 year old Brussels Griffon/Pug mix that entered my life when I rescued him from the Roanoke Valley SPCA.  Many may say he has a face only a mother could love, but I disagree! I think he is the cutest ever; especially when he is dressed for Halloween!

Last year, the Marketing team here at Goodwill had planned to appear on both WFXR and WDBJ7 to showcase how easy it is to find a unique costume at Goodwill. Both were VERY early morning appearances.  We decided that including Bentley would make it more fun and interesting for everyone.  I was SO excited!  I was going to get to dress my baby again for Halloween!

We combed our Pinterest page for the perfect costumes.  Quickly we realized that Bentley had to be an Ewok.  After all he looks just like one AND Star Wars: The Force Awakens was all the buzz last year.  We got a brown t-shirt from the $1 bin and a brown shoelace and his costume was complete.  He made his first appearance on WFXR and was immediately a star (in my eyes at least!).  Click here to see the video of Bentley’s Ewok debut!


For the appearance on WDBJ7 we decided to dress Bentley as a little old man.


We found a toddler shirt ($2.00) and a youth tie ($1) to create Bentley’s little old man costume.  All we did was cut the collar from the shirt and shorten the tie and Bentley’s little old man costume was done.  Unfortunately, this video clip is no longer online but trust me…Bentley was a star!

As you could see from the video clip from WFXR, it’s easy to dress yourself for Halloween at Goodwill too.  And remember we have our Costume Contest going on throughout the month of October for your chance to win an iPad Mini.  You can find more information on our website by clicking here.

I have to admit that I actually like Bentley’s little old man costume the best.  I think it fits him and his personality.  What do you think?  And we are currently brainstorming ideas for his costume this year.  Let us know if you have any thoughts!



It’s a #LaborOfLove

I grew up in Southeastern Ohio in the 1950’s.  I was one of six children.  We lived in a very rural area in the Appalachian region.  There were small farms, and it was the heart of the strip mines.  It was an economically depressed community.  There were few jobs, but people had a resiliency and they took care of themselves and their families.

I worked many jobs as a young man.  I was a potter, worked as a carpenter, planted trees in the strip mines, worked in a factory and drove a forklift, and was a substitute teacher among other things.  But in 1974 I was lucky enough to find my way to the Goodwill in Zanesville, Ohio.  Forty-two years later, I’m still as passionate about helping people find meaningful work as I was that first day on the job in 1974. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.6 million job openings in the United States at the end of June. In observance of Labor Day, between August 30 and September 6, Goodwills across the country are challenging people to sign Goodwill’s #LaborOfLove pledge. The hope is to spread awareness about Goodwill and the importance of job placement and training programs for people looking for employment.

By signing the #LaborofLove pledge, you can raise awareness about Goodwill’s job training programs that assist people in obtaining skills and industry-recognized credentials.  Last year, our Goodwill helped individuals earn more than 830 credentials and assisted 4,200 people to find jobs right here in Central and Southwest Virginia.

Goodwill wants to help business and industry close the skills gap in today’s workforce. This requires commitment to retraining and educating our workforce. Today you can help by clicking here to learn more about Goodwill and how individuals can support our efforts to put people to work.


Kids these days . . .

When I think back to those first days of school, many years ago now, I remember worrying about what to wear and who would be in my class.  Would I know anyone, were would I sit if I didn’t?  What would people say if they didn’t like my outfit?

When my son started school, I remember those first few days were always nerve-racking for him too.  But for him the worries were different … He worried that his teacher wouldn’t be nice or that the upcoming year was going to be “so hard” he wouldn’t do well.

Kids these days are different than we were.  They are much more aware of what is happening in our society and in their family.  Many know when the family is struggling to make ends meet.  They see the unrest in our society.  They know the stories of mass shootings and political unrest.  They grow up wanting to make a difference and change the circumstances around them.


They are:

  • Environmental Champions:  Kids today have grown up with Global Warming.  Recycling is not a new concept, and it seems by the time they reach school age they could teach adults a thing or two about being good to the environment.
  • Social Revolutionaries: Kids these days understand the challenges that others are facing.  It’s all over the news.  They want to make a difference in the world and in their own backyards.
  • Fashion Pioneers:  Kids today aren’t afraid to make a fashion statement.  They love a deal and the idea of being unique even more.

At Goodwill we thank the kids these days for their passion to be social and environmental champions.  By choosing to shop Goodwill for Back-to-School they are helping people in our community get back to work and gain greater independence, because Goodwill stores support job training and employment programs.  They are also able to define their own unique style and not overwhelm the family budget.

Kids these days are pretty cool.




A Charlie Brown Christmas

Were you able to take the time this Holiday season to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas?  It is one of those Holiday specials that never seems to get old.  Year after year many watch as if it is the first time they have ever seen the special.

You are probably thinking we are now going to talk about the phrase “On Earth, peace, Goodwill toward Men.”  Well the Good News? We’re not!  Instead think about the tree Charlie Brown picked out.

Charlie Brown and Linus choose a tree.

Everyone made fun of the tree that Charlie Brown chose.  Why?  It was different.  It didn’t fit the “mold” of the traditional tree.  But in the end, with a little love and care, the tree was as good or better than many of the others they could have chosen.  It always had the potential, it just needed a little help to become great.

After everyone works together to decorate the tree it looks great.

Charlie Brown’s tree is not so different from those that we serve at Goodwill.  They too have potential.  They may have barriers, including disabilities, disadvantages, or many have lost their job due to company closing or layoff, but they have the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and contribute to their community.  Goodwill simply provides the training and employment assistance they need to get back to work.  Just like the tree, it is simply a hand up, not a hand out that helps our participants live up to their true potential.

So this holiday season, and in the year to come, remember to look beyond the surface.  Look for the potential that is within each of us.  Help someone achieve their goals and live life to the fullest.  Goodwill looks forward to assisting more people in 2016 with employment barriers and we thank you for your support of our mission each and every day.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and “On Earth, peace, Goodwill toward men.”

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. For 84 years, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys has been here to turn the once-loved items in your basement or garage into job training and employment services for the New River, Roanoke, and Shenandoah Valleys.

Do you have memories of these sought-after holiday toys of the past?

51nlDAjTPaL._SY300_Beanie Babies (1995): Were you one of the many who collected Beanie Babies in the mid-90s?  Do you remember searching for the speckled cat or the new bear with the silver tag?  All the craze, they are still sold today, however the Beanie Baby fever seems to have cooled down.

elmo-originalTickle Me Elmo (1996): Do you remember standing in line, hoping and praying that you would get a Tickle Me Elmo so your child wouldn’t be heartbroken on Christmas? Can you believe there were actual store stampedes due to a publicized limited supply? Tickle Me Elmo is still around but the stampedes are a thing of the past!

Holiday Donation Tip: This year you can make another child’s holiday season brighter when you donate stuffed toys that are no longer “loved” in your home. Find your nearest donation site here.

37485-Tamagotchi-Pink-Heart_R1.pngTamagotchi (1997): These small digital pets required around-the-clock care and feeding and kids couldn’t get enough of them.  Tamagotchi devices have experienced a recent comeback with apps that are a hit on smartphones.

Furby (1998), Zhu Zhu Pets (2009), and Squinkies (2010): 


Kids seemed to love taking care of and feeding their toy pets. Furby, Zhu Zhu Pets and Squinkies took advantage of the craze. Furby has now come into the digital age with smartphone-connected editions. Did you drive your parents crazy with one of these demanding little creatures?

spark_blRazor Scooters (2000): If you grew up in the early 2000’s you probably wanted to be the first kid on the block to have a Razor Scooter. Today they’re still going strong with versions for adults and even motorized models!


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

Passion4FashionGroupBratz Dolls (2001): With their trendy clothes and pop-culture vibe, Bratz Dolls were predicted to be the first true rival of Barbie. Their popularity continues to increase today, outselling Barbie in some parts of the world.


621px-Xbox_consoleXbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo (2005-2006): – Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo stepped up their game consoles with new advances like HD graphics and wireless controllers. Millions of kids, teens and adults alike are hooked on gaming, and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Holiday Donation Tip: Goodwill Industries of the Valleys accepts donations of gaming consoles, handhelds, and video games. Visit our website to learn how your donations impact our community.

If any of these once-popular toys are cluttering your home, consider making a donation to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys this holiday season.

Have your kids try the Donation Match Game, a fun way 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 Goodwill for your holiday gifts.

Each time you donate and shop at Goodwill Industries of the Valleys you help support programs that provide employment assistance to those in need — including youth, adults, and seniors in our community with disabilities, disadvantages, and those that need assistance getting back to work or gaining greater independence. It’s good for you and good for our community.

Visit our website to learn more.

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