Goodwill in need of donations
by Tom Mayer
The jobs training mission of the 112-year-old nonprofit is fueled largely by its retail stores, such as those in Boone and West Jefferson. Those stores, in turn, are fueled by donations of used goods -- donations which tend to fall off sharply with the onset of harsh winter weather, said Jaymie Eichorn, vice president of marketing.
A cold winter such as the High Country is experiencing this year, with multiple days at near- or below-zero wind chill temperatures, is especially detrimental to the organization's mission, she said.
"Snow and ice and cold weather in general keep people from getting out, and that's impacting our donations and sales," Eichorn said.
That impact can be dramatic when spread through several months, she said.
"Compared to last year, we are at about 90 percent of donations," Eichorn said. "To get us through the winter, we usually have a number of trailers. This year, we have no inventory, nothing in reserve."
Dan Havancik, a six-year employee with Goodwill and the manager of the Boone retail store, said his stock is not at typical March levels. And although Havancik and his staff say they take pride in keeping the store's doors open during even severe weather, donations are not as forthcoming when cold and snow are in the forecast.
"Donations are a little bit down," Havancik said. "We're encouraging people to clean out the closets and bring it by. Spring cleaning is a great way to think about it."
"Bringing it by" -- anything from clothes and shoes to furniture and appliances are welcome donations, Havancik said -- is what keeps Goodwill Industries in the business of providing support services and training for jobseekers.
In Northwest North Carolina that business is significant, Eichorn said. It includes operations in 31 counties, 40 retail stores, 19 training facilities and 16 career connection centers.
Andy Pennestri is a direct recipient of Goodwill's opportunities in the High Country. A former manager in another career, Pennestri now works stock and customer service full-time in the Boone store.
"I absolutely love the place," Pennestri said. "This is a really good service.
"We're doing something for the community."