5 New Year Resolutions Goodwill can help you keep

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
January 1, 2017

5 New Year Resolutions Goodwill can help you keepIt’s the first day of a new year, and we have high hopes for your 2017!

Starting afresh in the New Year is an excellent feeling—with the renewed commitments to health, happiness, success, and the pursuit thereof. Now is the time that many choose to make changes in their lives—and we can help with some of the most common New Year Resolutions:

For those who resolve to reduce their eco-footprint:
Start your journey toward sustainability by checking out some of the ways Goodwill contributes to a more eco-friendly community. Not only did we keep over 60 million pounds of material waste out of landfills in 2016, but we also enable our community to make eco-conscious consumer decisions in regards to how they dispose of still-usable materials—and help reduce the need for new goods.

For those who resolve to be healthier:
Whether you’re looking to make changes to your diet, add more activity and exercising to your routine, or both—you’ll find what you need in our stores. From health-focused cookbooks and kitchenware, to athletic attire and workout gear, Goodwill is an excellent place to find quality goods at an affordable price. Protip: Looking for high-end kitchen appliances? Check our online stores.

For those who resolve to spend less, and save more:
Living in the greater Seattle area can be expensive—and shopping thrift can help save some of those hard-earned dollars! With a few exceptions, if there’s something you need, you can probably find it at Goodwill—home goods, clothing, décor, athletic gear, toys—the list goes on! Not only do we have a little of everything—but it’s easy to find high-quality name brands at a fraction of retail prices.

For those who resolve to get organized:
Goodwill can help those of you looking to get organized in multiple ways; shed your excess clutter at a Goodwill donation site, and pick up new ways to organize—like filing cabinets and storage bins—at a nearby Goodwill store. Don’t know where to start the process? Hit up our books department for some books like Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying, or visit our Cleaning & Organizing blog category for some tips.

For those who resolve to help improve their community:
Goodwill has many ways you can personally get involved in positively impacting our community through job training and education—and even a number of ways your company can get involved. By donating materials, giving financially, or shopping—you’re helping us fund the programs that we offer  at nine job training and education centers throughout the region free of charge to our students. We also have hundreds of volunteer opportunities every year, for individuals and corporate groups. You can be a single-day event volunteer, or a regular volunteer working with our students. Your company can also get involved by hiring our work-ready students.

Last year, thanks to supporters like you, we helped over 9,700 individuals right here in our region. No matter how you choose to support Goodwill with your New Year Resolutions, ultimately, you’re helping make an impact for our students, their families, and our community. Thank you for your support last year—and we look forward to being a part of your 2017!

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Video game consoles come full circle

by Bennett Tiglao, Seattle Goodwill
December 30, 2016

Nintendo NESNintendo had exceeded expectations of their recently released NES Classic Edition Mini before this holiday season even got started. Complete with 30 games from Mario to Metroid, the Japanese gaming giant has found itself with one of this year’s most highly sought after gifts. 

The console was on everyone’s list with its friendly $60 price tag. In early November the Redmond-based gaming company sold out of its new “retro” console days after its release.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to get one, Seattle Goodwill’s online eBay store and ShopGoodwill.com has a steady stream of the classic gaming consoles along with more recent ones, too. 

Classic consoles such as the Atari 2600, the Nintendo NES and the first PlayStation regularly come through our online auctions and usually come complete with controllers, cables and games. We even see Xbox Ones and PS4s since both have recently released newer versions for the holidays.

With the new year days away, it’s the perfect time to clean out the closet and donate old electronics to Seattle Goodwill. Did you get a new gaming system for Christmas? Make a donation, and proceeds from the sale go to directly fund our free Job Training and Education Programs.

Seattle Goodwill properly recycles all electronics that aren’t sold, and even takes the time to wipe clean computer hard drives before resell to protect the privacy of our donors.

Gaming systems have undergone many transformations throughout the years. Check out the industry’s evolution below:

  • Atari 2600 (1977) – The first true mainstream home console. The foundation of all gaming which sought to bring the arcade experience into the home.
  • Nintendo NES (1983) - Iconic franchises like Mario and Zelda became the standard for all game systems to follow.
  • Sega Genesis (1988) – Leaning toward more mature games like the arcade classic Mortal Kombat, this system targeted older audiences.
  • Nintendo SNES (1990) –SNES game library consisted of incredible original RPG and fighting games, innovated the six-button controller.
  • Sony PlayStation (1994) – The graphics and deeper content set this console ahead of the competition and standardized the CD format of today’s games.
  • Nintendo 64 (1996) – Innovated standard features such as Rumble, four-player local gaming and analog control.
  • Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – The best-selling video game console of all time. HUGE selection of games that catered to a wide range of gamers.
  • XBOX 360 (2005) – Despite the infamous Red Ring of Death, the 360 refined online gaming, introduced achievements, wireless technology, a hard drive and voice communication.
  • Nintendo Wii (2006) The Wii arrived to become a system found in the home of non-gamers and gamers alike, appealing to all ages.

One aspect of the Pacific Northwest that is overlooked is the budding gaming scene. From Microsoft to Nintendo, all the way down to the countless indie companies, Seattle is full of developers and designers putting out title after title.

In fact, the Emerald City has the largest concentration of game developers in the U.S. (some say it’s due to all the rain).

Thus, we see an abundance of gaming hardware donations. Whether you’re looking to complete your collection of vintage-game consoles, find custom designed gameware, huge lots of video games for resale or you’re simply looking for a great deal on a console that plays Blu-ray and streams Netflix, Seattle Goodwill has you covered.

Pro gaming tips

  • Clean your controllers: Residue from hours of sweat, spilled sodas and overall grime from dirty hands make your controller sticky and unresponsive. Use baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, cotton swabs or toothpicks (for finer detailing)
  • Check for the right connections: Many of the older consoles were made in the age of cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs, and today’s LCD and Plasma TVs don’t have the right connections required for our beloved old-school gaming consoles. You’ll need a converter or adapter that will connect to a part your TV has. Many adapters on the market exist, and Seattle Goodwill frequently receives them through our donation stations. 
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Ten Tips for End-of-Year Donations

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 29, 2016

End Of Year DonationsWith 2016 nearly behind us, it’s time to do that end-of-year purge that allows us to start 2017 afresh, give us a good kickoff to our New Year’s resolutions—and get that tax write off. People donate for a lot of different reasons: to lighten their material load, act on their commitment to sustainability, because they support our mission or to declutter. Goodwill is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, so your donations are also  tax-deductible.

No matter why you choose to donate to Seattle Goodwill, you can rest easy knowing your donation is creating a positive impact on our community through increased sustainability and our job training and education programs. Last year, thanks to generous donors like you, we helped over 9,700 people in our community through our programs.

Here are ten tips to help you with your end-of-year donations:

  1. We can take your electronics.
    When we can resell electronic items in our stores (online and brick and mortar), we go through a throughout wiping process using certified technology tools. When we can’t resell them, we work with E-Cycle Washington to make sure they’re properly recycled, and toxic materials stay out of landfills. This includes everything from that old CRT monitor collecting dust in your garage, to the iPhone you recently upgraded from.
  2. We can take your old garments and rags.
    A lot of people throw away damaged clothes, linens, and textiles because they think we can’t take them—but we can! Thanks to a partnership with King County & Seattle Public Utility’s Threadcycle program, we can take ALL textiles, as long as they’re not wet or moldy. We work with Threadcycle to ensure they’re reused and recycled—and kept out of landfills as much as possible.
  3. Grab a tax receipt, and fill it out.
    Your tax receipt is your ticket to your tax write off. Filling out the portion listing what you donated will help you in a few months when you file your taxes. Our receipts also have our Tax ID number, which will be asked for on your taxes.
  4. You can donate your car.
    Do you have a car taking up space in your garage, driveway, or yard? Through V-DAC, we can accept car donations—whether the vehicle is running or not. You can deduct the final selling price of your vehicle on your tax return—which is often more than what you might get for a trade-in or direct sale.
  5. Let us know about fragile items.
    Wrapping fragile items in newspaper or plastic bags, boxing them up, and writing “fragile” on the outside will help our donation station attendants know to take extra care with that box.
  6. Use rubber bands & baggies.
    When donating, making an effort to keep things that belong together—together—like shoes, game pieces, hardware that goes with an item, etc., is extremely helpful, and helps us raise more funds for job training and education. Here are some tips on maximizing the impact your donation has.
  7. We can accept financial gifts.
    Want to support Goodwill, but don’t have much stuff to give? Whether you can give $5, $25, or $100—your gift makes an impact.
  8. We partner with a number of services to help you get your big donations to us.
    We know that in the city, not everyone has a vehicle—let alone a vehicle big enough to move a couch or a dining table or a china cabinet. That’s why we’ve partnered with ZipCar, College Hunks, and Dolly to help you move your large donations. There are even some perks to using those services to donate. See the perks at the bottom of the page here.
  9. Check what we can and can’t accept before dropping your donation off.
    There’s not much on the list of items that we can’t accept, but checking in before driving to a donation site can save a lot of hassle. Check out our list of items we can and cannot accept. Have a question? Tweet us @SeattleGoodwill.
  10. Use Give Back Box.
    If you have some items to donate—but don’t have time during our open hours—check out Give Back Box. You load a box up with your donation, print a shipping label, and have your donation sent to us for free. It’s easy, environmentally friendly, and makes an impact on our community!

We have 42 donation sites throughout our region, and you can find the one nearest to you here.

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The guitar: Seattle music culture's iconic instrument

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
December 23, 2016

With perhaps the exception of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and more recently Macklemore’s rise to hip-hop stardom, there’s one genre of music commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest.

Bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam created what’s widely known as grunge music, establishing Seattle’s sound during the late 1980s, early 90s.

The sound—a hybrid of heavy metal and punk featuring a sludgy guitar sound with a high level of distortion—became a nationwide sensation when coupled with talented vocalists Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) and Layne Staley (Alice in Chains).

Grunge music faded by the late 90s. What grunge left in its wake was a young generation that idolized Seattle musicians and who wanted to, more than anything, learn how to play guitar.

Guitars are certainly one of the instruments aspiring musicians gravitate to the most, and Seattle Goodwill’s online stores have plenty to choose from. Shopgoodwill.com and Goodwill’s eBay store are great places to find tremendous deals on acoustic, electric, vintage and newer guitars.

“Guitars are the number one thing we get,” said Seattle Goodwill Auction Lister Pete Williams in regard to instruments. “We get some pretty nice stuff.”

Here are some things to look for via premierguitar.com when buying a used electric guitar:

  1. Inspect the finish: Stains and discoloration detract from the value of a guitar, so it’s important to inspect the paint. Be aware of cracks. A deep crack could illustrate a larger problem of separating seams in the body.
  2. Protect the neck: The area where the neck transitions to the headstock of the guitar is extremely vulnerable to damage. Wrinkles or ridges on or around the headstock are major signs of headstock repair.
  3. Don’t fret: You should, though, if you see dents or divots caused by string wear on the frets. Fret levels can be pricey to repair, so try to avoid a guitar with damaged frets.
  4. Examine the hardware: It is important to closely inspect the guitar bridge’s screws, nuts and washers that hold the knobs. Also look at the screws, washers and nuts that hold the tuning keys. Stripped threads, rounded nuts and missing screws should be a red flag.
  5. Sound check: Rotate the volume and tone knobs with the guitar plugged in and listen for scratchy pots. Then test the switches and jiggle the cable at the output jack. If the signal coming out is noisy or intermittent, the guitar may need some repair.

While guitars are donated to Goodwill the most, we receive a wide assortment of instruments. Some of them hold tremendous value.

Whether you’re a collector looking for a great find or a budding musician wanting to learn how to play, Goodwill’s online stores are a great resource.

“They are getting great instruments for usually less than they are worth,” said Pete, who’s played in multiple bands and has wealth of instrument knowledge. “I think people absolutely should go online and look at our instruments.”

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DIY: Homemade Menorahs

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 22, 2016

Saturday is the first day of Hanukkah! Also known as the Festival of Lights, or the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. It lasts eight days, and is celebrated by lighting candles each night, singing traditional songs, reciting prayers—and like many other holidays—eating traditional holiday food.

One of the traditional pieces of holiday décor—and an integral part of celebrating Hanukkah—is the menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum. Traditional menorahs are usually made of metal, with eight branches—four on either side—and a spot for the shamash (the candle used to light the other candles) in the middle, or somehow separated from the other eight candles.

Since we love doing all things DIY here at Goodwill, we thought we’d share some menorah DIY projects and some tips on making your own:


  • Traditionally, menorahs should be placed in a high-visibility location such as a window facing the street, or at the entrance of your home. Think about how to create your menorah to fit one of those spots—and still be safe for burning candles.
  • The candles should be in an even line—so no candle is above another, or in front of or behind another. The candles should be far enough apart that the heat from one isn’t melting another. (The exception is the shamash candle—which should be set apart from the other eight.)

 (For more info on tradition and specifics, here’s an excellent resource.)

Aunt Peaches: Fancy Schmancy Gilded Jam JarsGold Leaf Glass Menorah
This tutorial is a great way to learn how to use golden leaf—and has some great inspiration for using gold leaf on a simple, elegant menorah. Whether you do it with mason jars, or shot glasses—it will look great in a window, on an entryway table, or even on a shelf—without dripping wax, or the open flame of traditional menorahs. See the project from Aunt Peaches here.

Martha Stewart: Hanukkah Candles and MenorahsBlock Menorah
This can be easily done with blocks from Goodwill’s toy aisle, a little paint, and a drill to add holes to hold the candles. With this project, you get to choose your own colors—and make it fit your own home. See the project from Martha Stewart here.

Upcycled Baby Food Jar Menorah
There are many ways to adapt this idea—whether you follow Moms & Crafter’s idea, or combine the gold leaf idea and this one to create something like this unique menorah from Chabad, or adapt our glittered mason jar DIY blog with baby food jars.

ChaChing Queen: Make your own Hanukkah Menorahs – DIY Kids and Adults CraftKid-Friendly LEGO Menorah
Have a child who loves LEGO and DUPLO blocks? Invite them to help build this year’s Menorah. You can easily clean the blocks and add them back to the toy supply after Hanukkah by chipping off the wax that you can—and then washing them in very hot water to melt away the remaining wax. See an example from Cha Ching Queen.

We would love to see your DIY menorahs! Share it with us on Instagram, and tag @SeattleGoodwill and #GoodwillDIY!


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