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?

Goodwill’s 2015 Halloween Costume Contest Finalists!

To all the scary creatures, comic book heroes, pirates, fairies and other creative costume artists out there: You are fabulous! Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s Goodwill Halloween Costume contest. We had a fantastic response, receiving over 30 entries that showed your creativity and individuality. All the entries were so creative, it  was really tough to narrow down the top three. 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 11 that demonstrated the most original and creative use of Goodwill-purchased materials. Then a second panel was given those 11 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 are:

“The Raggedy Ann & Andy Family” – submitted by Kelly W.

The Raggedy Ann and Andy Family Halloween Costume

Kelly W. made her family costume entirely from materials found at Goodwill. She purchased a bed skirt which she used to create Raggedy Ann’s apron and Raggedy Andy’s collar and hat.Raggedy Ann’s dress and hat came from Goodwill along with a red t-shirt that she used for their hair! Creative and thrifty!

“Freezer Burn Freddie” – submitted by Katie S.

Freezer Burn Freddie severed head in a freezer costume

Katie’s son, Jacob, wanted to be something scary for Halloween so the whole family worked together and created this frozen severed head. The white turtleneck was purchased at Goodill, the fridge handle was given to them by a used appliance shop and the rest was boxes and paint! Fake blood towel and handprints, along with a devilishly clever “grocery” list compete this entirely DIY costume.

“Transformer” – submitted by Kaleena T.

Transformer Grimlock costume

Kaleena used a paintball mask, lacrosse gloves and a foam mat from Goodwill, along with foam mats purchased elsewhere to build this intricate costume of Transformer Dinobot, Grimlock. She used an exacto blade to shape the pieces and a heat gun to mold them with her hands. Kaleena says that without Goodwill, this costume, which took her nearly three months to make, would have been much more expensive.

It’s time to vote for your favorite!

Vote here for the costume that you think should be the winner of our Costume Contest!

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

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

Voting will end this Friday, October 30th at Noon.  Be sure to tell your friends and family to vote!

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20 Questions to Help You Decide to Keep It, Sell it, or Donate it

20 Questions to ask to decide whether to keep an item, sell it, or donate it

Goodwill partner Lorrie Morero, a professional organizer and author of “The Clutter Diet,” created a list of 20 questions to help you when trying to decide whether or not to keep an item. Print this list and keep it with you as you organize closets, clean out the garage, or declutter your home.

  1. Is this item valuable enough to pay someone by the pound to move it to another place?
  2. What would it cost in time and money to acquire this item again?
  3. Does anyone I know have one of these I could easily borrow?
  4. How much money could I get for selling this instead of keeping it?
  5. When is the last time I can remember using this item?
  6. How often do I use it – weekly, monthly, yearly, never?
  7. Do I already have something else that serves the same purpose?
  8. What is a scenario in which I can picture myself using this, and how likely is that to happen?
  9. Is there a use for this that doesn’t involve the phrase, “Someday when I have time…”?
  10. What is the worst thing that might happen if I donate or recycle this item?
  11. Is there an alternative way to capture the essence and value of this item instead? (i.e. digital copies)
  12. Does this item help create an environment that supports me in my goals?
  13. If I flipped a coin right now and heads was “keep” and tails was “donate,” which would I secretly be rooting for as the coin is landing?
  14. Does this item make me feel positive or negative?
  15. Does this item remind me of my past, or my future?
  16. If I were hit by a bus, would my family truly value this item, or even know what it is and why I kept it?
  17. What would my best friend say if he/she were standing here considering this?
  18. What would a professional organizer say if he/she were here with me now?
  19. Will I feel good about keeping this item the next time I run into it?
  20. Does someone else need this more than I do?

For all the items you decide to donate, we hope you choose Goodwill. When you donate to Goodwill, you can be confident that you are making a positive impact on your community and helping change lives for the better. Goodwill Industries of the Valleys sells your donations in its retail stores to generate needed revenue to operate Work and Training programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages.

To find your nearest donation center, click here.


Style Inspiration for the Whole Family

As Fall and cooler weather approach, look to Goodwill for your fashion inspiration. Good news! In addition to stylish looks for women, we now have plenty of style inspiration for boys, girls, and men too!

InspireInStyle look features Lucky Brand jeans and a long-sleeved Timberland polo shirt. Perfect for game day!Our latest men’s outfit is a casual combo of Lucky Brand jeans, a long-sleeved Timberland polo style shirt, worn over a crisp, white Alfani T-shirt. Lucky Brand mens’ jeans retail for around $99, but all three of these pieces cost just $10.75 at your Goodwill stores. Add a cool pair of kicks, and your guy is ready for game day. Bring on the nachos!

Early Autumn’s cool mornings and warm afternoons call for dressing in layers. This girls’ long-sleeved top and jeans are perfect for school days. Just add a jacket or sweater for the bus stop and she’s good to go. Both are from the popular clothing chain, The Children’s Place, and the total is only $4 at your Goodwill store!

This girls' Goodwill style inspiration comes with a cool pair of embellished jeans and embroidered t-shirt, perfect for school!

We hope you enjoy the looks that we’ve put together for the entire family! Keep your eye out for weekly InspireInStyle posts on our Facebook and Pinterest  pages. We’d also love to hear back from you. Tell us what kind of fashion content you’d like to see more of. Your feedback is important to us!

Ready to start shopping now? Visit http://www.goodwillvalleys.com/shop to find your closest Goodwill location. Also be sure to share your fashion finds! Post them to our wall on Facebook or email them to marketing@goodwillvalleys.com.

Also, in addition to more great Fall looks, we’ll soon be giving you lots of ideas for Halloween costumes. Stay tuned for spoooooky updates! Happy Fall everyone!


The Strength of a Compassionate Community

Last week was a difficult week for the Roanoke community. The murder of two bright and talented, young journalism professionals, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, knocked us to our knees. It was devastating for their families, loved ones, and WDBJ7 colleagues as well as to those throughout the region who welcomed them into their homes daily via newscast.

With hearts broken, we’ve witnessed the WDBJ7 staff fight through shock and tears to do their jobs and we are inspired by their courage.

 The showing of sympathy and support from our community’s residents is a reminder of why we are proud to call the Roanoke Valley home.

As employees of Goodwill, we are fortunate to continually witness the generosity of those who live not just in the Roanoke Valley, but in the New River, and Shenandoah Valleys as well. It is because those in our communities care so deeply about others that Goodwill is able to offer a helping hand to so many.

It is obvious to everyone that knew Alison and Adam that they were proud of their community. The outpouring of compassion in the wake of their deaths is evidence their pride was not misplaced.

 May we honor them with grace and kindness toward one another today and every day.

Alison Parket and Adam Ward
Alison and Adam dressed up for Goodwill’s 2014 Halloween costume feature
Adam Ward and Melissa Gaona
Adam with Melissa Gaona in costume for Goodwill’s 2013 Halloween promotion
Alison Parker and Chelsea Hartberger
Alison fixes Goodwill Marketing Assistant Chelsea Hartberger’s hair for the 2014 Halloween costume segment

How to Change the Life of a Child

GoodGuides youth and their mentors at the garden
In Roanoke, youth and their mentors are able to work in the GoodGuides Community Garden, which provides opportunities to learn new life skills. In May, GoodGuides had a picnic and games day at their garden that brought together people of all ages.

The Good News About Mentoring
Mentors are making a profound difference for boys and girls in Virginia who face challenges and disadvantages in their lives.

Through one-on-one time with their mentor as well as group activities, youth become empowered to to make choices that transform their lives in positive ways.

Celebrating Achievements
At Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, we have seen young people achieve goals they never would have dreamed of. Accomplishments like being the first in their family to graduate from high school, entering college, or getting a first job are just a few of the successes that GoodGuides boys and girls have celebrated.

 “My life today has really been improved through GoodGuides. It taught me a lot of things. It made me come out of my shell. Now I do theatre in school, when I really didn’t talk to anybody.” – Nari’k Page, youth participant in GoodGuides.

Giving Back
The youth also learn about volunteerism and giving back to their community. Recently they prepared packages of school supplies to contribute to a local back-to-school donation drive.

Why Should I Mentor a Child?
Through structure and supportive relationships with trusted adult mentors, youth in our community are empowered to make positive life choices to maximize their potential. Their successes in life have a positive impact on the communities in which they live.

Click here to find out how you can become a youth mentor and see the tremendous effect your guidance can have in the life of an area young person. You might find that it changes your life as well!

Back to school girl's outfit

Shop Goodwill and Send Your Kids Back to School in Style!

This week we’re launching a new look for “Inspire In Style”, our online feature designed to inspire your inner fashionista!  The new Inspire In Style will include outfits for children and adults.  Today’s Good News?  Just in time for back-to-school shopping we will show you how to head back to school in style on any budget!

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Back to School Survey, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend about $630 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics. That’s why so many parents have learned that Goodwill is a great place to find bargains on school supplies and clothing.

Your Goodwill stores have high quality clothes for kids at a fraction of what you would pay at the mall. As we were pulling kid’s outfits together at our Melrose Avenue store in Roanoke last week, some of the great brands we came across were The Children’s Place, GapKids, Mini Boden, Ralph Lauren Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, and Abercrombie & Fitch just to name a few. And as you know, Goodwill store inventory changes daily so you’ll find new selections to choose from every time you shop!

This week’s featured back-to-school outfit for girls includes a pair of red GapKids jeans, a MiniBoden embellished shirInspireInStyle draft verticalt, a Faded Glory jean jacket for those cool early mornings, and a pair of Schwinn roller blades. The entire outfit totals only $8! A similar outfit would cost well over $125 at a traditional retailer.

Does your child’s school have uniform requirements? You can find great basics at Goodwill too, like khakis, solid color shirts, and button downs.

In addition to big savings for your family, your Goodwill shopping dollars go directly to fund a wide variety of programs and services that enable people in our communities to get back to work and gain greater independence. One thing we hear frequently from people who attend our Real Goodwill Tour, which is open to the public and provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the services Goodwill provides,  is “I had no idea Goodwill did all these things!” When you donate and shop, you empower Goodwill to help people achieve their greatest potential.

Find your nearest Goodwill store here and shop today to get quality clothing and supplies for all your back-to-school needs.

Want to be inspired each week by our fashion finds at local Goodwill stores?  Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!