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Wrap Up 2014 by Giving Others a Brighter Future

December 19, 2014

donateThe time period between December 26 and New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times at Goodwill as people drop off their donations to get their last tax deduction for the year. Proceeds from the sale of these items help fund job training and employment programs in your community, which are more critical than ever as unemployment continues to hover around 6.5 percent in the Carolinas this holiday season.

Get an early start this year by collecting things you no longer need for Goodwill. Here are five tips from organizing expert Lorie Marrero to help you get a head start on decluttering your home.

  • Use the trusty “One In, One Out Rule” to equalize your storage for the new items you receive for holiday gifts. For every new toy, give one away to Goodwill. For every new sweater or shirt… you get the idea. You’ll usually find the momentum from doing this will result in more donations than you planned.
  • Help your children learn the value of giving by organizing their toys together before the holiday gifts arrive, and donating what they no longer need to Goodwill. Take them with you to the donation center so they can see their stuff go to a new home, and tell them how the sale of the items is used to create jobs for people in your own community.
  • Get all of what’s coming to you. You have until December 31 to get a tax deduction for donating household goods for 2014, and most people grossly underestimate the value of the household goods they are donating. Generally, an item’s value should be based on fair market value – what the item would sell for in a thrift store. Use our handy valuation guide to calculate the value of popular items.
  • Remember to get a receipt from your local Goodwill when you drop off your items. If you need a visual reminder of what you donated, take a photograph of your “donation pile” as another record of the deduction.
  • Do NOT get hung up on finding “the perfect home” for your donated items and running your stuff around to ten different places. The holidays are busy enough! If you are looking for a convenient drop-off location, click here to find the Goodwill store or donation center nearest you. Goodwill helps create jobs, so that is a wonderful thing!

All of us want to give back this holiday season. By taking a quick drive to your local Goodwill donation center and giving before December 31, you can help put friends and neighbors back on the path to employment success, while cleaning out your own closets and getting a fresh start on 2015.

Goodwill holiday hours are December 24 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., December 25 closed, December 31 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and January 1 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you donating this holiday season?

Organize Your Bookshelves with Unique DIY Bookends: Part 2

December 5, 2014

Modern Bookend

A More Modern Take

If  you’re a paperback book or graphic novel reader, you might be interested in a modern bookend look. Book-page bookends will look great on contemporary bookshelves.

Book Ends

I often get inspiration for a project just browsing at Goodwill. When I found this wood napkin holder, I knew I could upcycle it into bookends.

Metallic Bookends

This project requires a miter box saw. Lucky for me, my husband has a shed full of power tools! I cut the holder in half (actually, my husband did!), making sure the bottom was flush with the sides. I sanded the cut edges smooth and lightly sanded the shiny finish so new paint would stick. It got two coats of black spray paint and a light blast of silver paint. Solid black just seemed too stark.


Folding Books

I tore the cover off of a paperback book, and then cut it in half. Next, you simply fold each page in half.

Folding books 2


Glue another loose page to the binding side of your folded book with a glue stick. It gives it a neat finish.

Final Folding books

The last step is to glue the folded pages to each half of the L-shaped stand. Once the glue is dry, put them to work. Who knows, your shelves will look so great, you might buy a few more books!

Merri Cvetan writes about her DIY décor projects, including bookend and bookcase ideas, for Home Depot. Merri started her career as an interior designer after she bought an 1890s farmhouse. To view Home Depot’s selection of power saws, including the type of miter saw Merri used, you can visit the company’s website.

Organize Your Bookshelves with Unique DIY Bookends: Part 1 of 2

December 2, 2014

The book debate continues: do you prefer reading on a Nook or Kindle or do you like the “real thing”? Electronic readers are lightweight, portable and you can take hundreds of books wA to Z imageith you wherever you go. On the other hand, who doesn’t like to curl up by the fire with a good novel? There’s just something about turning an actual page to find out what happens next.

I like the Kindle for travel, but l love books and collect old ones, particularly vintage classic novels. As with any collection, keeping your bookshelves organized and neat can be a problem. Don’t pack your books away: display your favorites with unique DIY bookends made from items you find at places like Goodwill.

What could be more appropriate than A to Z bookends? This no-sew set is so easy to do you’ll want to give them as gifts.




Wood Embroidery Hoops


I’m always finding wood embroidery hoops at Goodwill. I guess it’s a lost art. And since bookends need a heavy base, I picked up a pair of small glass candle holders.

A to Z Fonts

Choose a font you like and print ‘A’ and ‘Z’ sized to fit in your hoops. Instead of matching, I decided to use a round and an oval hoop. The asymmetry makes an arrangement much more interesting.


Cut out each letter from felt. Pick a color that goes with your décor. The classic font I choose called for black.

Textured Background

Whether I’m designing a room interior, a craft project or home accessory, I think about texture and contrast. That’s why I used burlap as my base. I love the roughness of raw burlap against the smooth wood hoop and matte felt. The shiny glass candle holder will add another layer.

Depending on the size of your hoop, you’ll only need a very small piece of fabric. Stretch the burlap on the hoop, paying attention to the weave (you’ll want to make sure it’s straight). Glue on the letter with white craft glue.


Trim to Burlap

Trim off the excess burlap. Trace the hoop on another piece of felt and glue to back inside to give it a little more stability.


Up Close AUp Close Z


Attach each hoop to the candleholder with a little more craft glue. Allow to dry. Voila! The perfect set of bookends for a traditional bookcase or library.






Merri Cvetan writes about her DIY décor projects, including bookend and bookcase ideas, for Home Depot. Merri started her career as an interior designer after she bought an 1890s farmhouse and has since done a wide variety of work, including redecorating homes in her area. To view Home Depot’s online selection of bookcases and shelves, click here.

Why It’s Important to Participate in #GivingTuesday

November 21, 2014

Giving TuesdayEach day, thousands of people come to Goodwill® looking for help finding a job. Goodwill’s job training and career services would not be possible without generous donations of used items from donors every day. This holiday season, Goodwill is proud to take part in #GivingTuesday, on December 2nd, and reminds people that giving cash is also a great way to support Goodwill’s mission of helping people build their careers.

#GivingTuesday is a collective effort to transform how people take part in the giving season. Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become synonymous with holiday shopping, the goal of #GivingTuesday is to be a national day of giving. People from all walks of life are encouraged to find simple ways to give back to their communities and be part of a global celebration of generosity.

Goodwill helps people who face multiple barriers to employment such as disabilities, lack of education or work experience and other challenges to finding employment. It is easy to make a tax-deductible financial gift to Goodwill on #GivingTuesday by visiting

Beyond #GivingTuesday there are many opportunities for individuals to spread Goodwill this holiday season. When families donate clothing and other household items they can no longer use to Goodwill, it creates jobs and helps fund Goodwill’s employment programs for people in their community. By donating one bag of gently used clothing and housewares you are providing one hour of resume development for an individual seeking employment. All donations are tax-deductible, please refer to our donation valuation guide to help determine the value of your donation

For more than 110 years (almost 50 within the southern piedmont) Goodwill has been an environmental leader, turning the power of donated goods into job opportunities for people in need of work.

See how your donation helps to provide career opportunities for those in need in our community.


Barriers to Job Success: Criminal Backgrounds

November 19, 2014

job appFor many job hunters with criminal backgrounds, getting a second chance isn’t easy. The Los Angeles Times reports that felons, even those with degrees, find it incredibly difficult to find work. According to a Pew Economic Policy report, a former inmate’s incarceration reduces annual work time by nine weeks per year and diminishes annual earnings by 40 percent. Yet rejoining the workforce is a critical part of successful rehabilitation program.

Incarceration is often traumatic. Yet being thrust back into society after spending time in jail has its own traumas. When James was released from prison after serving a long-term sentence, he felt ill-prepared and afraid over having to provide for basic needs – food, shelter, and money. Through Goodwill’s Second Chance workshop, he learned how to prepare for and deal with these pressures positively.

Community programs like the Second Chance series arm re-integrating individuals with tips and techniques to build a strong resume despite a criminal background. For James, participating in Goodwill’s programs helped him change attitudes and behaviors to improve his life, learn new skills, and overcome rejection time after time.

Goodwill supports implementing flexible hiring practices—such as the recently approved “Ban the Box” measure—that are designed to give former offenders the same chance at landing a job as anyone else being considered for the role. The “Ban the Box” initiative eliminated the box on City of Charlotte job applications that asks candidates to disclose their criminal records. The change means that hiring managers will delay asking about a candidate’s criminal background until later in the hiring process. Hiring practices that screen out former offenders early in the process have far-reaching impacts on African-American and Hispanic men, who are arrested at a rate that is 2 to 3 times their proportion of the general population.

For a former offender, making an honest living is vital to staying away from trouble and staying out of prison. Having a job transforms lives. As important as that transformation will be for a person with a criminal background, the impact could be even greater on his or her family and community.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are your tips for explaining to a potential employer an action that you regret?

Four Tips for Turing a Thrift Store Table into a Beer & Wine Cooler

November 14, 2014


If you’re the type of person who loves to have friends and family over for backyard get togethers, no doubt you’ve seen the inspiring “trough table” from California’s Medlock Ames winery, featured in Dwell a few years ago and currently making the rounds on Pinterest. Featuring rustic, reclaimed barn wood and a galvanized metal beer or wine cooler running through the center, it’s the picnic table of an outdoor party planner’s dreams.

When my husband and I came across this coffee table at Goodwill (it was too smoke-saturated to put indoors), we just knew that we had to try upcycling it with a beer and wine cooler for our side deck—a spot where we had lounge chairs lining the fence near our grill, and a favorite hangout when we have people over.

The only problem: when we went to saw a hole in the table large enough to retrofit it with either a length of metal gutter or a planter box, we found out the top was made of composite wood and wasn’t structurally sound with a big hole cut into the center. And creating a custom frame was outside the skill set of two English majors.


But don’t let that dissuade you from trying this DIY!

Here are four trial-by-error things we learned, and tips/tutorials you can use to avoid our mistakes:

If you want to upcycle a thrift store table with a trough, it’s best to go with a picnic table or other table that has horizontal planks of wood running lengthwise in odd numbers, so you can remove the center board with a saw or crowbar and easily place a galvanized trough or metal/plastic gardening planter into the hole left behind. This is definitely the only option if you’re a beginner-to-novice DIY-er. Unless you have carpentry experience, leave the fancy upcycling to the experts — or phone a friend who can lend you a skilled set of hands. 
Domesticated Engineer has a great tutorial for building your own, and Danny Lipford has a great video tutorial for adding a drink trough to a wooden picnic table.

Thousands of amazing DIYs exist for turning an old shipping pallet from a thrift store or salvage yard into 
a piece of modern furniture, but even with the most amateur-friendly tutorial, it’s going to be a lot of work finding a pallet in great condition, removing the nails, puttying the old nail holes, and then sanding and planing the wood to uniform thickness—not to mention staining or painting the boards once you’re done. My advice? Get new lumber from a home improvement store, follow one of the great tutorials for building your own trough table frame (like this DIY beer/wine cooler table from Remodelaholic), and then pair your new custom table with benches, chairs, and décor from Goodwill!

If you want to get the look and utility of the inspirational “trough table” without the heavy-duty DIY expertise, try making a boxed trough that sits on top of your thrifted wooden patio table instead, which only requires a cordless drill and a few other tools! It’s an easy afternoon project, and one you can bring indoors between BBQ seasons to use all year ’round on any buffet or countertop. All you need to do is find an old card catalog drawer to line with a length of galvanized metal gutter, drain pipe, or livestock feeder, or take those liners and build a custom surround out of wood by simply measuring, cutting, and nailing together all four sides.

If you can make a smaller “incision” into the top of your thrift store table, or can use a router to cut circular holes just slightly smaller than the rim of your ice buckets to set them into, then there are some really cool options for DIY-ers of any skill level, like 
this coffee table, this vintage console table, or this industrial wooden spool. My absolute favorite though (and the one I think I’m going to try next) is making a beer/wine cooler table from an old sewing machine table, either by screwing the legs to a Radio Flyer wagon top or by securing a thrift store metal roasting pan into the sewing machine compartment of an old flip-top table.

Genius — and so Goodwill!

Melissa Massello writes about her DIY activities for Home Depot. Living in Texas gives Melissa plenty of time to spend outdoors, as her recent wine cooler outdoor table project attests. Home Depot has a large selection of wine coolers available, if you decide you’d like to try a project similar to Melissa’s.

Furnishing Your Home with Pre-Loved Finds

November 7, 2014
It’s no secret that there’s much treasure to be found at your local Goodwill shops. When I opened my photography office back in 2011, I needed to furnish  it on a budget. While perusing Goodwill at lunch one day, I discovered two matching lampstable lamps for $4 each! I initially thought I would just give them a nice coat of glossy, white paint… but after tossing on some inexpensive shades from HomeGoods, I never did, and I’m glad! You see, after having that office for two years, I decided to go back to working from home, and in that time we were also building a little beach getaway and were needing to furnish that space. The lamps that I’d previously loved in my office became a perfect addition to our new living room!


In addition to those lamps coming from my old office, so did the end tables & coffee table… both of which were found at the Cornelius ReStore. The coffee table ($40) was actually a dining table my husband cut down and the end tables were a whopping $7 each! The two chairs were from Craigslist for $25 each, I sewed drop cloth slipcovers over them. I love it when my pre-loved items, find the perfect spot multiple times!



 JJ Horton House-1034

Jessica Horton is a portrait and wedding photographer based in Davidson, NC with the ability to find an impossible deal and pick out the most expensive purse on the rack! Follow her blog JJ Horton Photography and on Facebook.


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