Thrift shops provide community outreach programs

Caroline Barger

More stories from Caroline Barger

On Jan. 5, 2017, Goodwill officially opened its doors to the Newton community. Goodwill not only provides a clothing store to the town, but also creates job opportunities for adults with disabilities.

“Goodwill provides a place for people to drop off unwanted items and keeps them out of the landfill. In addition, Goodwill uses proceeds from the stores to provide education and job skills training for people with disabilities or other employment barriers,” Vice President of Marketing and Development Molly Fox said.

County developmental disability organizations work with Goodwill in order to employ adults. Goodwill ensures that all of their employees with disabilities have access to health care, food, transportation, suitable housing and day services, and even help them prepare for their GED exams. More than 70 percent of employees at Goodwill report having a disability or barrier to employment. This program gives them a chance to thrive in the workplace.

“At the Newton location we will hire and train adults with disabilities. Part of the day they will work in the store and the other part they will be in a classroom setting learning job skills,” Fox said. “ The goal for many of them will be to learn how to work at Goodwill in order to move to another job in the community.”

Goodwill is not just a place for shopping, but also a place for giving. Community members can help by donating clothes, and also help the adults with disabilities working there.

“Everything is of value to us, clothing, purses, shoes, housewares. We have a need for it all. But the best way to help our employees is to donate and shop at Goodwill and round up your change at the register when you check out. All of the money from that goes right back into programs,” Fox said.

Although Goodwill gives back to Newton and surrounding communities, they are not the only thrift store in town that does so. The Et Cetera shop has been partnering with Mennonite Central Community (MCC) for 40 years and also provides monthly vouchers to the Newton Homeless Shelter.

“Most of our from profit here goes to MCC and kind of does different things with that and we gave over $200,000 to MCC this year in 2016 and $26,000 of that goes to local things,” Emily Epp said. “MCC then does different things with that with overseas programs, a lot of it goes to relieve development in other countries, we also send the clothes that we recycle.”
Last year about $5,000 worth of store vouchers were given to different local organizations such as the homeless shelter. With these vouchers, people who are in need of clothes are able to come into Et Cetera and get items like a winter coat, cold weather gear and basic staples.

“Families immigrating to the US are a big partner with MCC and Et Cetera shop with the vouchers as well. The families immigrating from countries such as Mexico or Guatemala we will help them start their lives in Newton and they are able to come shop,” Epp said.