Carol Little, manager of the Fort Garry Goodwill store at 1540 Pembina Hwy. for the last 12-and-a-half years, laughs when she talks about her job.
"I love it. You get to see all the toys you had when you were growing up, the dishes your mom used to have, all kinds of things from different countries that you’ve never seen before, souvenirs that people paid full price for and now you can buy them for almost nothing."
With enthusiasm like she struck gold, she talks about the brooches from 1861 that she priced the other day.
"When would I ever get another opportunity to touch and look at something like that? I don’t have to own it. I just like looking at. There is so much history," she says.
As a not-for profit organization, Goodwill Industries’ mission is to provide "vocational and rehabilitation services and employment for persons with physical, developmental, mental, emotional or social challenges."
They also hire people who have just come to Canada and may be experiencing difficulty in gaining employment in the fields for which they’ve trained. At times, Goodwill is used as a stepping stone to other jobs, since employees are welcome to stay as long as they need and are welcome to move on when they have acquired enough confidence to apply for other jobs.
Goodwill also allows students from the Pembina Trails School Division to volunteer at its Pembina store. Special-needs youth, at-risk teens or teens wanting to earn credit are welcome.
Donations are always welcome.
Carol’s rule of thumb for donations is:
"If you wouldn’t give it to a friend, there’s a good chance that it might be garbage."
Because Goodwill spends thousands of dollars on sending unusable items to the dump, it is helpful that all donations are marketable. Household items, clothing, bedding, toys, electrical appliances, sporting goods and furniture in good condition are always welcome. Carol advises people to drop off donations only during the store’s hours of operation, because if donations are left outside there is a chance of vandalism, theft, or being damaged by the elements.
The Pembina store’s hours of operations are: Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.
The store’s best money maker is its auction window.
"We put the coolest stuff we can find in the window for a month and then we collect bids," Carol says.
Highest bidders are notified that they can pick up their item.
Goodwill donates items such as toys to organizations in Cuba and Jamaica, coffee cups and spoons to Agape Table, puzzles to senior citizens’ homes, games to local after-school programs, hats, mitts, scarves, and coats to Siloam Mission, and shoes to Africa.
If a family suffered loss through a fire, Goodwill is available to set them up with everything they need to start over again.
Helen Lepp Friesen is a community correspondent for Fort Garry. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org