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Donate to Goodwill this holiday season

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This holiday season, area residents can help an established local charity by simply clearing out some things in their homes that they no longer need. Goodwill Industries accepts donations of clothing and household items that are in good shape so they can, in turn, sell those items at their thrift shops throughout the Orlando area.

“With the holidays fast approaching, we encourage residents to donate items, like clothes and toys,” Bill Oakley, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida said. “Not only does this make room for new holiday gifts, it provides an end-of-year charitable tax deduction for donors and helps support local residents looking for work.”

In the past year, the nonprofit – which operates in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, Brevard and Volusia counties – has experienced a 14 percent increase in traffic to its Job Connection Centers, which offer assistance with applying and interviewing for jobs, including résumé writing, computer training and career counseling. Since the beginning of 2013, more than 26,000 people used free services at these Centers, and of those 5,052 are now employed – a 7.2 percent increase since 2012.

Residents can donate gently used clothing, household goods and electronics to their nearest retail store or Donation Xpress. Goodwill is also collecting old computers and accessories thanks to the Dell Reconnect partnership, a free program that offers an easy, convenient and responsible way for people to recycle computer equipment and other electronics.

In 2013, Goodwill opened a combined store and Job Connection Center in Clermont, a store in Waterford Lakes (east Orlando) and a Job Connection Center in Sanford. ADCs in Dr. Phillips, downtown Orlando, Lee Vista, Palm Bay, Longwood, Tuskawilla, College Park and Lake Nona have also recently opened for donations. A new ADC is also scheduled to open in Satellite Beach on Dec. 16.

In addition, donations are now being collected for the new “American-made” West Melbourne store, slated to open in early 2014. Residents may drop off donations at the on-site trailer, located at the store’s future address at 2250 Coastal Lane.

Top 10 Things to Donate to Goodwill this Holiday Season:

1. Computers: At the end of their useful life computers can be donated at your local Goodwill store and recycled via Goodwill’s Dell Reconnect partnership. Donors should be sure to delete personal data before donating.
2. Kitchenware: Receive something new for the kitchen during the holidays? Gently used kitchenware can be donated at most Goodwill donation locations. To find the donation site in your community, go to www.goodwill.org.
3. Video Games: A donation of 10 video games can provide 47 minutes of on-the-job training.
4. Books: Upgrade from paperbacks to a Kindle or iPad this year? Donating 15 books can provide 26 minutes of career counseling.
5. CDs: If all of your songs are saved on hard drives and mp3 players, do you really need those hundreds of old CDs that are taking up space in the back of your closet? It may be time to donate them.
6. Cell phones: Unused cell phones are one of the fastest-growing types of trash in America. Instead of discarding your old phone, recycle or donate it. Donors should be sure to delete personal data before donating.
7. Household items: It’s time to give that lamp a new life. Lamps, frames, vases, curios, baskets, and collectibles are just a few of the many items that you can donate to Goodwill.
8. Bikes: Goodwill and other thrift stores take big-ticket items like bikes. When your children have outgrown theirs, or you’ve moved on to a new bike, consider donating.
9. Gift Cards: Billions of dollars in holiday gift cards go unused every year. You can donate an unwanted gift card — with any unused amount on it — to your local Goodwill.
10. Clothes: Suits, pants, dresses, shirts. You name it, we’ll take it. Donating clothes not only funds job training programs, but also provides new outfits for the job seekers Goodwill serves.

“Donations allow us to provide employment placement services and other community based programs to people with disabilities, those who lack education or work experience and others facing challenges to finding employment,” Oakley said.

To find the location nearest you, visit www.goodwillcfl.org.

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