Goodwill hunting for LEGO

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
September 30, 2016

Undoubtedly, LEGOs are one of the most recognizable toy brands in the world—perhaps one of the most well-known brands in general. They’ve been a fixture in popular culture, whether it be on TV, in music, movies, books, etc. There are even six worldwide LEGOLAND theme parks immortalizing the little, colorful interlocking blocks.

LEGOs have worked their way into childhoods since the toy concept sprouted in Denmark and serious production began in the late 1950s early 60s. The company still is a force today, as LEGO has expanded from the original block toy sets and has ventured into creating individual brands meant to capture children’s imaginations and collectors’ interest.

Seattle Goodwill’s online stores provide an excellent opportunity to score great deals for all types of LEGO enthusiasts.

Online store:

EBay store:

A carpenter from Billund, Denmark named Ole Kirk Christiansen started what was called The LEGO Group in 1932 in a workshop where he began making wooden toys. His company altered its name to LEGO, and in 1947 it expanded and began making plastic toys. LEGO experimented with several plastic toys until 1958 when it introduced today’s modern LEGO brick.

Today LEGO product lines include Star Wars, Friends, Minecraft, Duplo, Ninjago, Bionicle and Marvel Super Heroes to name a few. Many minifigures from the lines have become major collector items. Recently, a LEGO Harry Potter complete collection of 55 sets and all minifigures sold for $10,000 on eBay.

Every day Seattle Goodwill receives massive amounts of LEGO donations. The donations are brought to our flagship store on Dearborn where they are sorted and sold in various packages online.

“A lot of people into LEGOs know they are worth money,” said Sharen Ray, Goodwill Online Books Lister, who specializes in LEGOs,” but a lot of parents clean their kid’s room and think it’s just LEGOs, it’s just toys. Andy they’ll (donate) hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of LEGOs.”

Sharen meticulously sorts through LEGO pieces, separating everything out from blocks, to bushes, motorcycles, animals and different minifigures. LEGOs are sold on and on Seattle Goodwill’s eBay store in 10-to-20 pound batches and in various other groupings. Goodwill often sells complete sets and packages minifigures together that match the same theme. We even receive unopened box sets. Shopping online at Goodwill affords LEGO buyers a unique experience they won’t find anywhere else.

“(LEGOs) got involved into pop culture,” Sharen said. “Some of the most popular ones are when people see the movie and then find out, ‘There is a LEGO for that?’”

Proceeds from online store purchases help support Goodwill’s free job training and education programs.

Check out some other fun LEGO facts:

  • The volume of an eight-stud LEGO brick is 4.9162 cm. It measures 9.6 x 32 x 16 mm.
  • There are 915,103,765 ways to combine six eight-stud (2x4) bricks.
  • On average, every person on earth owns 86 Lego bricks.
  • There were 45.7 billion LEGO bricks produced in 2012 at a rate of 5.2 million per hour.
  • You would need a column of 40 million LEGO bricks to reach the moon.
  • The LEGO name is made from the first two letters of the Danish words LEG GODT, which means “play well.”
  • The first minifigure was produced in 1978. Since, more than 4 billion have been made.
  • The amount of LEGO bricks sold in 2012 would stretch around the world more than 18 times.

*LEGO facts obtained from LEGO website.

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Glitter Gala Styling Intern Profile: Tran Trieu

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
September 28, 2016

Last week you met Ariel Acuezeta, one of our Styling Interns who’s working on the looks you’ll see on the runway at Glitter Gala. Ariel encouraged her classmate at Sanford Brown College, Tran Trieu to look into the same internship—and she did—and Tran is the Styling Intern we’re introducing you to today.

Tran Trieu’s interest in fashion started young—even before seven or eight years old. “I watched a lot of Asian entertainment growing up,” she explained. “I saw their costumes and stage performances, and it was just very appealing—so I started sketching a lot of the stuff the models and singers were wearing, and then I started adding my own designs.” As a kid she played dress up with her little sister and received encouragement that she’d be good at fashion design from her mother. During her time at Franklin High School (FHS) she took a sewing class, and remarked, “The teacher taught apparel and textiles—and I got to use sewing machines, and I realized I really liked it.” Toward the end of her high school career, design and art schools started presenting their programs at FHS, and Tran was of course interested.

For the Glitter Gala Fashion Show, Tran’s segments will focus on flowers and sky. She’s inspired by designers like Fendi—who she sees as simultaneously elegant and edgy, a combination that not many lines pull off well.

When asked how she feels about her work at the annual Glitter Gala helping raise funds for Seattle Goodwill’s mission to provide job training and education opportunities, she said, “I feel like I’m benefitting more than Goodwill is! Even on the business side, I’m learning about communication with models, and keeping everything professional.”

In the distant future, she hopes to have her own brand with her own store in New York City. “It’s always better to start from the bottom and work your way up.” she remarked about her future plans. “To be the next Michael Kors—that’s my dream—but in 5-10 years I’m hoping to be something like an assistant designer at Nordstrom or another brand corporate office. I’d like to start with a good brand—I know there’s a lot I can learn from them.” Expect her future line to be cruelty-free, too. “Ethical sourcing is huge for me,” she explained, while talking about her inspiration in leather goods. “We have the technology now to make fake leather that looks and feels very real—so I don’t think we need to use animals anymore.”

To see Tran’s styling work on the runway, join us at Glitter Gala on October 15. You can buy tickets here.


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Find great Renoir jewelry in Goodwill's online stores

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
September 23, 2016

More often than not, jewelry types have an interesting back story of how they became popularized, and Renoir—an ultra-collectible costume jewelry—is no exception.

We can all thank Brooklyn, N.Y. native Jerry Fels for creating the Renoir line. Fels’ journey to becoming a jewelry pioneer is compelling. Growing up, he was steered toward fine arts by his parents and joined the National Academy of Design in New York where he developed painting, sculpture and design skills. Fels worked as an Art Director before joining the Air Force and becoming a fighter pilot during World War II.

Fels—drawing off influence from the Arts and Crafts Movement during the late 1800 and early 1900s—created his company, Renoir of California, in Los Angeles in 1946. Renoir of California specialized in copper jewelry in geometric forms.

Copper jewelry was extremely popular during the 1950s and 60s, and Fels expanded upon his Renoir line by creating Matisse jewelry. Matisse introduced a sparkling enamel to the copper jewelry that attracted celebrities, movie stars and the who’s who of Hollywood. Fels produced his copper jewelry until 1964 when Renoir and Matisse closed business thanks to an evolving fashion industry and lower demand for copper jewelry.

Although, Fels is no longer churning out beautiful Renoir jewelry, that doesn’t mean you can’t hunt down some of his copper pieces at Goodwill. 

What to look for

In the quest to find authentic Renoir copper jewelry pieces, there are a few distinguishable marks. The Matisse line has the Renoir copyright mark in cursive and the Matisse mark on the back of each piece. Early pieces marked with the signature “Hand Made, Renoir California” date 1948-51. Afterward pieces were marked “Renoir.” Prices vary, but usually fall in the $20-$70 range.

Goodwill’s online stores—eBay, ShopGoodwill and Etsy—are all great places to find the perfect Renoir piece, and many will be available during Goodwill’s annual Glitter Sale on Nov. 6-7.

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Glitter Gala Styling Intern Profile: Ariel Azcueta

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
September 20, 2016

When the models take the runway at the Glitter Gala Fashion Show on October 15, there will be three individuals largely responsible for the looks you see—the Glitter Gala Styling Interns. Between now and the Gala, we’ll be introducing you to the creative minds behind the “Take Root and Bloom” themed display on the runway.

Ariel Azcueta is a Fashion Design student at Sanford Brown College. She’s interested in pursuing a career in fair trade fashion and sustainable textile practices—perhaps one day working in a textile laboratory that aims to reduce waste from the fashion industry.

Her passion for fashion design grew out of her relationship with her little sister. Growing up Ariel describes her style as very girly, and her younger sister saw that, and wanted to “be beautiful too.” Ariel, wanting to instill in her sister that she is beautiful, started helping her develop her own style. “I went through her closet and started sorting all her clothes and putting them together into outfits.” She explained, “I didn’t know it at the time, but I was styling her wardrobe.” Ariel started noticing that her sister was happy with the selections, and feeling more comfortable in her own skin and wardrobe—and that’s what got her into fashion design.

“What I did for my sister, I want to do for other people as well,” she said. Ariel is passionate about self-expression through wardrobe and self-styling. “I realized you don’t need to follow what other people are doing to feel beautiful. You can find it in your own personal style.” She also volunteers as a stylist at Ruby Room, a non-profit organization that connects low-income high school students with formal attire for events like prom.

She’s inspired by the work of fashion designer Zac Posen—“I like his aesthetic,” she said. “It can be so simple, but little details can bring out so much.”

For the Glitter Gala Fashion Show, Ariel will be styling the second and fifth segments of the show. Her favorite part of the internship experience so far has been pulling items from the store to create her looks—but it hasn’t gone without challenges. “I live in Seattle. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I love wearing black, gray, and white—so adding color has been challenging for me. Even with the segments I have, I keep trying to go back and make it neutral—and I keep telling myself no!” Expect to see shades of green with red highlights in Ariel’s segments.

See Ariel’s work come to life on the runway on October 15 at Glitter Gala & Fashion Show 2016—get your tickets here.

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Key Bank donation helps YAP students chart path to life success

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
September 4, 2016

Brycen was sitting in his high school manufacturing class two years ago when a presenter entered the room and began speaking about some extracurricular program. Brycen wasn’t paying too much attention. He thought he’d heard it all before.

Suddenly, the man’s message piqued his interest. This was different.

“I raised my head and started listening to this guy and all the opportunity he talked about,” Brycen explained. “It wasn’t a college thing. It wasn’t a schooling thing. I thought, ‘This is a program meant to help people.’ I had this feeling that it would carry me into the next step in life.”

That was the first step in what’s been a transformative experience for Brycen. That day he learned about Seattle Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program (YAP), which focuses on aviation/manufacturing training that guides youth through their final year of high school, first year of community college and subsequent job placement in the field.

The program also helps youth develop knowledge, skills and motivation to achieve in school. They also learn to contribute positively to the greater community, be competitive in the job market and successfully enroll in and complete post-secondary education.

Brycen is a YAP 3 student. He’s enrolled in Everett Community College and well on the pathway to building a bright future for himself and his family. That’s especially important given some of the hardships Brycen’s been dealt.

He moved from California to Washington where he attended Snohomish High School as a sophomore. He left home, moving to a completely unfamiliar place, to get a new lease on life.

“My dad was a drug addict, and my birth mom was a drug addict,” Brycen said. “You can imagine there was a few complications with all of that. (Moving) wasn’t to get away from them, but rather it was to get a new start in life, because from day one it’s been like all-the-odds-against-us kind of thing.”

Goodwill’s YAP has been a blessing, Brycen said. He’s forged lasting friendships while charting a path to a career that will help him one day support a family of his own—one of his largest life goals.

“With the knowledge Goodwill has gifted me with, their support and my faith and everything, it’s like I’m unstoppable at this point,” Brycen said. “So it’s really just this amazing feeling. It’s like for the first time in my life things are actually working and that is just inspiring. The ultimate goal is to have a wife and family and really provide for them. When I was young that was stolen from me. The best way to fulfill that in my life is to recreate that myself, so I’m going to do it.”

Brycen’s YAP 3 classmate, Asia, has also grown thanks to her time in the YAP program.

Asia went to elementary school in the United States before moving to the Philippines and finishing her schooling there. She graduated at 15 years old and moved back to the U.S.

Asia—always shy and reserved growing up—has blossomed into a far more outgoing person thanks to the YAP program, and she’s also discovered the type of career she hopes to have.

“It changed me a lot,” said Asia of her first year in the program. “I was that kid who always locked up and never wanted to show my true me. I’ve changed a lot. My mom sees it. I’m outgoing more. I’m getting the soft skills I need. This program is just changing all of us from teenagers to real adults.”

Key Bank, which is prioritizing workforce development and education, has awarded Seattle Goodwill and Everett Community College a $75,000 grant to support the Seattle Goodwill Youth Aerospace Program and ECC enrollment.

“We know students who leave with a two-year degree earn, on average, twice as much as adults without a high school diploma,” said Barbara “b.g.” Nabors-Glass, Vice President of Seattle Goodwill’s Job Training and Education. “We are very grateful for the support of Key Bank for helping impact our student’s futures in such a positive way.”

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