You know that Goodwill takes in clothes and other stuff you no longer need. You know that Goodwill runs thrift shops. The name Goodwill tells you something good is going on. But have you ever wondered what is the good that Goodwill does?

First, that pair of jeans (or shoes or bookends) you drop off at Goodwill gets processed and moved to the store to be sold. If it doesn’t sell after a few weeks, it gets discounted. From there, if it doesn’t sell, it goes to our outlet store and put in a bin where goods are sold by the pound. Our goal is to salvage as much as possible to keep it from going to landfill. That much is simple.

What you may not realize is that all that activity serves a mission (and it’s not, as some suspect, to clothe the poor).

Behind the scenes, Goodwill operates the most successful job placement and training programs in the country. Local people who have been out of work a long time – due to homelessness, struggles with addiction, incarceration, lack of skills, and other factors – get jobs through Goodwill. Together, Alabama Goodwill provided 25,905 services to people in need, and put 598 people back to work in the past 12 months. For many, Goodwill is their last and only hope at getting off public assistance and earning a paycheck.

Those folks taking in your donation at Goodwill, driving Goodwill trucks, working in Goodwill warehouses, and servicing customers in our stores are getting on-the-job training, building their resumes to get even better jobs outside of Goodwill. The money generated through the sale of the stuff you donated also funds classroom learning, life-skills training, career counseling, and job placement services. Many local employers hire people screened and prepared for work by Goodwill. Who knew?

When you drop off a couple pairs of jeans that may be a bit too large or too small, know that you’ll help Goodwill raise about $15 by selling them. That $15 will pay for about an hour of job training for someone who’s ready to start a new life and just needs a chance. Spend $15 in a Goodwill store, and you’ll fund another hour of classroom time for someone getting their GED or learning how to apply for a job online. Every purchase at Goodwill has a purpose.

So, the next time you feel tempted to toss an old pair of jeans or other clothes in the trash, think again. Almost like magic, you can turn them into jobs instead for our community members in need.