Cleaning & Organizing

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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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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How to tackle spring cleaning

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
March 20, 2016

Happy first day of spring! While we’ll give the weather a bit more time to make up its mind, spring is officially here, and we know that brings with it the dreaded notion of spring cleaning. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be an undefeatable monster—with a proper plan to tackle tasks one at a time, spring cleaning becomes much more manageable.

First tip: Having time set aside to get your tasks done is important, but if one of those rare, warm, sunny spring days presents itself, go play in it! Spring cleaning will wait, the Seattle spring sun might not. You’ll dislike spring cleaning even more if it means missing an opportunity to enjoy intermittent good weather.

Second tip: Start inside, and work your way out. That allows you to get the indoor tasks done during the stormier part of spring, and reserves outdoor tasks for nicer days when you’ll actually want to be outside.

Below you’ll find some blogs we put together to help you plan, prepare, and execute all of your spring cleaning tasks.

Preparing & The Purge
Spring cleaning doesn’t need to be quite the daunting beast that we see it as. Breaking down spring cleaning tasks, and spreading them throughout the season, can make the project more manageable, and certainly eliminate some stress.

Getting the kiddos to help
If you’re a parent, you know it can be hard to get spring cleaning done with the kiddos running around—and equally as difficult to motivate the older kids to get involved. There’s the age old adage “many hands makes light work”—so what are some ways to engage those (slightly smaller) hands in age-appropriate cleaning tasks?

Six Easy Steps: Cleaning inside
On a rainy spring day, why not get some indoor spring cleaning done? These smart cleaning strategies help you clean quickly and well – so you’ll have more free time on the next sunny day!

Kitchens & Bathrooms
There’s no doubt about it—cleaning a bathroom, kitchen or mud room can be one of the tougher housecleaning tasks, but also rewarding. Check out these tips to get the job done!

On a sunny spring weekend, it may be tough to face the reality of your messy garage. When you do the work, there’s a big payoff. An organized garage helps you get more enjoyment from gardening and other favorite outdoor activities – with more time outside and less time searching for items.

Yard & Garden
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener with years of perennials under your belt, or new to having your own yard to turn into your summertime haven—there are a few simple things you can do to get your yard useable and ready for enjoying the sunshine.

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It's National Clean Out Your Garage Day!

by Catherine Sweeney, Creative Circle
September 12, 2015

According to Consumer Reports, 62 percent of Americans report that their garages are a mess. Almost a third of people don’t park their car in the garage.

September 12 is National Clean Out Your Garage Day, so what better day to reclaim that cluttered space?First, think about the activities that you love, such as:

  • Sports and recreation. What’s trapped in your garage? Your bike? Your skis? In a few hours, they will be yours again.
  • Gardening. The fall is a great time to plant bulbs and colorful, cool-weather annuals and perennials—easier when you can access gardening tools.
  • Home projects. By decluttering, your tools and workbench will become accessible.
  • Your car. By the end of the weekend, you’ll have room for it again.

Confront the chaos with smart strategies
Visit our previous blog for garage clean-out strategies. Remember to use three bins—one for recycling, one for donations, and one for items that need to be thrown away.

Goodwill accepts a number of the items that clutter garages. Before you bring in larger items like furniture, be sure to check out locator to ensure that the donation site accepts those items—as not all sites can accommodate items larger than a small end table.

We accept items including:

  • Barbeque grills (must be clean and without propane tanks)
  • Bed frames (but no mattresses or box springs)
  • Futon frames and gently-used futon mattresses
  • Camping equipment
  • Computers, including desktops, laptops and monitors (check your donation site’s guidelines) and computer accessories
  • Exercise equipment
  • Lawn equipment, including gas-powered equipment (must be drained of all fluids)
  • Small household appliances (no large appliances)
  • All kinds of household items (including well-worn textiles that are not wet or mildewed, which are recycled through our partnership with Threadcycle)

If there’s an old car sitting in your garage, we’ll even take it!  You’ll need to contact our partner Vehicle Donations to Any Charity (V-DAC).

See our complete donation guidelines for more information, including restricted items.

Zipvan and Zipcar perks
Do you need access to a van to carry your donations?  Zipcar members can reserve a Zipvan at Goodwill locations including our flagship store on Dearborn and our Ballard store. You can also receive a full-hour refund on driving credit for donating to any Goodwill location in the city of Seattle while driving a Zipvan or Zipcar.  Learn more.

While you enjoy your clean garage, your donated items will fund Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Programs. So why not start your fall with a win-win?

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5 simple tools that can help your family stay organized this school year

by Elena Nebreda,
September 5, 2015

School year is starting soon! Here are five simple and handy basics that you can often find at your local Goodwill to make your life way easier all year round:

1. A magnetic dry erase board
Place it somewhere prominent in your kitchen to give you and all your family a snapshot idea of what each week and day are going to look like. Put a general schedule in the middle and leave room for additional things on its sides (like a shopping list, notes or a social activity calendar) so it is easily updated to everybody's changing needs as you go. You can also super simply create a custom dry erase board from thrifted materials so it matches your home décor!  


2. A filing box, or small filing cabinet.
Many families find the old file drawer system more reliable than ever when it comes to keeping tabs on different things and documents. Assign a file to each member or area of your life (grades, permission slips, projects, etc.) and check on it when the need arises or on a regular basis.



3. Transparent plastic bins with lids.
These are versatile and perfect for storing school supplies, arts and crafts materials, costumes, sports gear, seasonal décor and just about anything you can think of. You can label them listing their specific contents, also being transparent makes it easy to know a glance what is inside.



4. A coatrack and shoe rack in the entry way
Often overlooked, hanging your children's coats, shoes and backpacks at your home's entrance can be a huge help—no more hunting coats down last minute! It’s even better if they have a shelf, cubby or basket that can be used for heavier fall and winter items like scarves, hats and gloves. A shoe rack in the entry way can also help keep unwanted rainy fall day debris out of the house.



5. A 3-ring binder
A simple 3 ring binder is the quickest way to keep all the important information regarding your family in one easy to access set of documents. Gather calendars, field trip slips, vaccinations, and any information, emergency or not, that a babysitter would find useful, like bedtime routines of your children and contact information of neighbors, and family friends. Ideas for family vacations and projects can find their tidy place inside of the detachable transparent pages in it instead of being scattered all over. A 3-ring binder will give you a very useful big picture and serve as an owner's manual for how your family operates.

Find your back to school organization basics at your local Goodwill and get everything ready for a very successful reentry!

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