Embarrassing question re Goodwill

marie26January 18, 2007

I have dgd's outside toys that she had used when she visited that she's outgrown for her next visit. For instance, there is a bike and a toddler's car. Must I scrub these down before dropping them off at Goodwill? I will admit that I don't want to do that, thus the question.

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Marie just call Goodwill or drop off the toys. They have workers who are employed to clean up, fold up, etc. and they hire disabled workers. So you are doing a good deed to give the toys.
I had always heard that you should always give clean clothing, all folded or freshly cleaned and never take off the buttons. Well, a legal client of mine told me that he had a business which purchased very good clothing from charities and he sold the best overseas primarily to the Philippines; the rest they cut the buttons off and sold them, and the torn stuff was sold for recycled material or rags. So now if I have really great buttons or buckles I keep them and reuse. I was amazed to hear it, but then saw an article in the Los Angeles Times later that said the same thing.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 7:53PM
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Thank you for your response. I will definitely drop them off.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 12:52AM
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Do check on the buttonless stuff though. We live so far from anyplace, that items are not shipped away from here. Our charities throw away anything with buttons missing. I end up wanting the buttons lots of time, so I cut them off and put the cotton shirts in my compost pile. Same with T-shirts which get all stained. I'm always dropping food on my chest and end up with grease spots I can't get out.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 1:58AM
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I vote for at least giving the toys a quick wipedown with a wet rag. I frequent thrift stores looking for record albums and old electronics and whatever else I need. I've seen coffeemakers with grounds still left in them, alarm clocks and computer keyboards with obvious finger grime, clothing with stains, and so on. I don't expect everything at GW to be antiseptically clean. But I'd be embarrassed to hand over something that needed obvious work -- especially since donating to GW is something you choose the time to do.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 9:05AM
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When you drop stuff off at goodwill, you have to actually give the stuff to a person. The person, is not always satisfied with what you are giving and will often say so. Not verbally but with grunts, eye rolls, and head shakes.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 8:05PM
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There is a local charity here that performs a broad base of social services. I was surprised to read in one of their newsletters that they made $20,000 that year selling rags. So now, I don't say anything's too bad to give them! I do bag the rags together though so they don't have to pay someone to sort them.

Gloria, please tell me about composting cotton shirts. Does it take a long time for them to break down?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 11:14PM
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I heard that at Goodwill,when someone donates clothing, they will sort through and throw out anything that looks stained. A lot of what remains is sold as "rags". Only like-new stuff makes it to the showroom.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 12:29PM
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Depends on the local folks running Goodwill. If there are goood businessmen/women on the Board (volunteers), they will try very hard to make as much money as possible as it goes into training and salaries for the disabled. Around here they reupholster furniture, refinish the wood tables, etc. or repaint. Same with bikes and trikes ..most are repainted, new seat or they take parts from several to make one good one. They have glass showcases in which nicer jewelry, "antique" dolls or books, etc. are placed for bidding...a good system which nets more money usually, and more fair as everyone can bid their best offer, rather than some early bird getting all the goodies.

Most clothing and linens seem clean and in good repair. No doubt some are sold for rags, but GW still benefits. That volunteer turning up her nose may never have seen a child born without all new clothing...or a schoolage child thrilled with a sweater...even from GW. Just ignore her...she probably won't volunteer there very long.

I don't shop as often now, just donate, but my son loved to find Matchbox cars or extra Lego blocks...and almost every vase and tray and basket in my house came from GW...and probably recycled 1000 books over the years. josh

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 1:18PM
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Can't remember where I saw this, probably a short segment on the local news, but a representative from one of the many GW places asked that people send only clothing items that were "gently used" not stained or rags. Same for other items. They said those things wasted their time and created problems getting rid of for them. There is a place though that specifically collects rags, but not well known. Sandy

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 4:00PM
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If my local Goodwills are anything to go by, then the people putting clothing out on the sales floor either are not trained to look carefully for stains or they choose to play the odds.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 9:28AM
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liz, we have a short composting season. Usually mid-May to mid-Sept. I put in a red cotton T-shirt so I could easily spot it, and everything except the neck band was gone by Sept. I don't even have a controlled hot pile, just more of a rot pile which I turn once or twice a summer if I'm in the mood. DH and I rarely have anything in decent shape to donate, so our's ends up in the pile.

I've also found if I think a bit I can use things up. I really don't like using clothing rags for cleaning, but we'll cut them in strips and make fire starters for the fireplace. A small roll in egg cartons with wax from old candle stubbs poured over is a fun kid activity. I also put several layers of rags over a piece of cardboard for those under car drips. Our animal shelters like donations of worn out natural fiber clothing to use for rags and bedding for the animals. They are a great place to donate old ratty towels, etc.

Our backyard has a partial chainlink fence. The kids and I will put small strips of fabric in the fence for the birds to grab for nests. I've found by having a designated waste can in my sewing area for all of my cotton scraps and threads, I'm more likely to put them in my compost pile. I even use old clothing of cotton and wool to build my garden beds instead of cardboard or newspaper.

And I've been know to buy the ratty shirts at the thrift store just for their buttons. At a couple of dollars for the shirt, it's less than buying a card of buttons.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 6:31PM
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Thanks Gloria. I haven't composted in years, but will start again when we move.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 2:05AM
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Dryer lint also can be composted ... even if it's polyester or rayon, it will act as an inert soil amendment.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 10:11AM
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