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Arlington Goodwill Center Racks Up Donations

by ARLnow.com July 8, 2011 at 9:00 am 5,741 74 Comments

Arlington residents are nothing if not generous. The county is home to one of the highest-performing Goodwill donation centers in the country.

The nonprofit’s Glebe Road donation center at 10 S. Glebe Road was ranked 6th out of 2,657 donation centers nationwide in 2010.

The center, which often has a line of cars waiting to donate snaking through its parking lot, racked up 121,254 donations in 2010, according to Goodwill spokesman Brendan Hurley. The location’s retail store, meanwhile, recorded 119,946 transactions.

All told, donations at the Glebe Road center kept 4,850,160 pounds of materials — including 370,000 pounds of computer equipment — out of landfills.

  • Shelia

    Do the items donated there go to that store or are they distributed throughout the DC area?

    • Arlwhenever

      Most of the donations deposited at that location go into semi-trailers to be sorted and processed at another location. However, there are volunteers, who focus on items like books, Cd’s, DVD’s and VHS tapes for example; they cherry pick the donations and bring selections down to the basement where the items are stored for a time before being checked out and then brought up the counters/shelves for sale.

  • CrystalMikey

    Awesome, I for one like to donate my unneeded clothes to the Disable American Veterans (DAV).

  • Lacey Forest

    I believe it. I used to live a couple of blocks from there and the line of cars all day Saturday is astounding. I’ve also found some nice things there for myself.

  • AllenB

    Very cool. It’s nice to know that one of the wealthiest areas in the country is also one of the most generous. Whenever I drop stuff off there, the donation area is packed.

  • Josh S

    I’m wondering – is the “diverted X pounds from landfills” really how Goodwill chooses to quantify their donations? Doesn’t seem like they’d really want to promote their stuff as trash.

    • charlie

      on the news last night (ch 4?) they had a piece about recycling stuff in houses that are vacated.
      Americans are 5% of the world population but we generate 30% of the world trash.

    • doodly

      It’s the other way around – our trash is full of perfectly good items.

  • Sigh…

    I used to donate there all the time but have stopped. The guys who work at the donation area are often rude. They’ll bark orders at you as to where to drop your stuff. Hello? I’m donating. I’m not the one who’s at work. I hand you the stuff, and then it’s YOUR job to put it wherever it goes in the parking lot.

    • Arlwhenever

      Goodwill Industries’ primary mission is to help people who are disadvantaged and disabled find an entree to the workforce that’s not otherwise available. So yes, if you want to be pampered, please do buy from Nordstrom and contract with Waste Management to dispose of your excess. You won’t find skilled professionals at Goodwill.

      • Sigh…

        Pampered? No. Just not ordered around. Take my stuff out of my hands and let me drive off.

        Training people to actually be employable means teaching them a modicum of customer service skills.

        • Arlwhenever

          Goodwill celebrates its alumni who develop skills that are necessary to graduate on to mainstream jobs with other employers. But people working at Goodwill have typically been unemployable elswhere. Learning how to interact with customers is a long and difficult process for this population that you apparently don’t want to participate in, so don’t.

          • Sigh…

            Uh, read my initial post; I don’t. I quit donating there.

            It’s not my job to teach them; it’s the job of Goodwill. A few of their employees are wonderful, but most of the donation-station guys seem to want to just stand there and direct the donors to to work that they should be doing. Goodwill is not doing them a service by failing to hold them to a higher standard/work ethic.

          • NPGMBR

            I understand what you are saying but at the same time every time I make a donation there I get out of my vehicle and take my donation directly where they want me to take it becasue it gets me out of there faster.

            Are you sure those guys back there are employees and not volunteers? Its not that often that volunteers break their backs when donating their time because they have regular jobs to go to.

            Anywho, I don’t have a need to feel like they need to treat me special because im making a donation. I get sufficient satisfaction from that fact that I can do something good with the unwanted stuff that was taking up room in my apartment.

          • Let’s try this again

            Expecting to simply hand off your stuff to someone rather than hand-carry it through a cluttered parking lot of stuff is not expecting special treatment. I don’t need my ass kissed; I just want to drop it off and get out of there–and I don’t need to be yelled at like I’m in Marine Corps Boot Camp.

            The other thing is, how do they know who is physically able to carry stuff and who isn’t? Some people have bad backs, bad knees, and not all of us are elderly.

            If Goodwill wants to make people employable, they have a long way to go. Not just with the donation guys, but with the store people too in most cases. Teach them how to tell men’s pants from women’s and put them on the correct racks. That kinda thing. This will really help them in the long run.

          • Arlwhenever –

            Sigh is absolute right – more than once I’ve also had to deal with rudeness as I arrive to drop off items. Your comments to sigh are just about as aconfrontational as what we get when donating. What’s with the Nordstrom comment!

            I continue to take things there simply because it is very convenient for me.

            Get off your high-horse.

    • Sigh x2

      I have to agree – I used to donate there all the time. Lately, I’ve been to donate and the guys who work there are very rude. It’s gotten to the point where I will drive out of my way to donate elsewhere. I understand that Goodwill hires people who may be unemployable elsewhere. However, I have donated at other thrift stores (i.e., the Salvation Army) and other Goodwills and I have never been treated as poorly as I have at the Arlington Goodwill.

    • Pedro

      Yeah. This place sucks. It’s always a hassle getting in and out, and the staff are @$$holes. “HEY. YOU CAN’T DROP THAT HERE. GET IN THAT LINE AND WAIT!”

      We now donate at the one off of Annandale Road in Falls Church. There’s no line, and the staff is friendly.

    • charlie

      Sigh, I’m sorry you feel slighted.
      But seriously, Goodwill needs to process people quickly and efficiently. And since most people are only there once, no one understand the system. While barking may not be as warm as you would like, it is effective.
      The good you are doing by donating far outweighs a bad time there.
      Think of the people who are getting your stuff — they still need it.

      • Rt50

        I’ve also had the same experience at this particular donation center. The staff was rude or really downright mean. I’m sure there are reasons, but I’m also sure that this behavior shouldn’t be a goal. I don’t go to this location anymore because of the extremely negative experiences I’ve had there.

        I’m not surprised to hear that others have had this issue.

        • esmith69

          I’ve been to this place twice. First time it was a breeze–I parked the car, carried my bags of stuff over to the area instead of waiting in the ridiculously long car line, and everything was good. Second time I went there, the line was also very long and I tried to do the same thing and the guy yelled at me and said I had to wait in the car line. It made me so mad that I went inside and asked to speak to the manager. Turns out that a bunch of people recently had been just walking up and dropping off bags on the ground, without putting them in the right bin or even asking the workers where stuff should go (I can’t say I’m surprised–typical middle-class urban oblivion attitude). Anyways, it ended up causing hours of additional work for everyone working there at the end of the day. In response, they started the rule where you have to get in the car line.

          Still, I think they could use some lessons in courtesy. It would make waiting in the stupid car line so much more tolerable.

        • BlueSkies

          I agree with Rt. 50 and Sigh. The people there are often rude, and if Goodwill is training them to be employable, getting them to at least say “thank you” should be achievable. The way they operate now gives the impression that they don’t want the donations, and the stacks and stacks of items piled up also makes me think they don’t need them. So why keep going there?

          I’ve been searching for alternatives and found people who are happy to have my stuff through Freecycle, through consignment shops (a local business and I each pocket a few bucks), and through donations at a nearby church. Goodwill is now where I take things that still seem useful but don’t fit the above – i.e, my spot of last resort.

    • Adjustment

      So you only want to donate in a way that’s convenient for you? How noble!

      If you’re physically unable to carry your things yourself, have you tried asking them nicely to help you? I’m afraid from the tone of your posts you sound like you’re one of the “that’s not my job” crowd instead of the “If something needs to get done, I’ll do it” crowd.

    • EastPike

      Totally agree with Sigh…

      Dropping off items at this Goodwill is a hassle. The workers are inefficient and rude. I agree with posters that say Goodwill is doing them a diservice by not teaching better skills. I will occasionally drop items off a weeknight, but after one long, slow, and attitude ridden drop off on a Saturday about 6 months ago, I’m more apt to throw things out than I am to donate on a weekend.

      I will gladly shop here though!

  • Ren

    Judging by the mass of perfectfly usable stuff in the trash bins outside my house, Arlingtonians could divert even more if they wanted to. Freecyle anyone? Or even posting it on the free section of craiglist. I think part of the issue is that no charities pick up anymore. Also, while I’m glad that the Goodwill gets so many donations, part of the reason could be that the other Goodwills around don’t take donations. One Goodwill donation site surrounded by 200,000++ people and they get 121K donations. I guess that’s not too bad, but the ranking alone doesn’t tell much.

    • Arlwhenever

      Goodwill picks up if you have eight or more pieces of furniture, bags of clothes etc.; they contract for a no minimum fee service that will also dispose of trashed items. There are eleven Goodwill donation bins plus two Goodwill Donation centers inside the Beltway in Northern Virginia (as well as several centers and many additional bins not far outside).

      • Tabby

        They refused to be involved in our community clean-up, which would have meant a bunch of good stuff being donated. (We were supplying the dumpster for non-donateable stuff.)

    • ArlChick

      Freecycle is great and I’ve yet to have anyone not show up for a pick-up. As for charities that pick up, there’s still the Vietnam Veterans of America, here’s their website: http://www.vvapickup.org/gd.donations/Default.aspx

      I’ve used them over the years and they pick up a long list of things. Sometimes the dates they can pick up are kind of far out but nothing’s perfect.

    • madisonmanor

      There are plenty of charitable organizations that pick up – there are 3 that I cycle through (usually depending on which one calls when I have stuff to donate) – National Children’s Center, Purple Heart, and AMVETS have all gladly come to my house to pick up things.

    • PHD

      The Lupus Foundation and Purple Heart pick up. I get those donation bags sealed in plastic frequently. They list the date when they’ll be in your neighborhood, and you call if you’re going to put stuff out. That’s how we got rid of the stuff that didn’t sell in last year’s neighborhood yard sale.

    • charlie

      freecycle is great although i have seen some evidence of hoarders in some of the people who show up to get stuff.

  • KHJ

    This is wonderful to hear and it is a testiment to how well this center is run. There are always volunteer staff who are efficient, well organized and helpful. Great work!

  • JimPB

    I see lots of things in near new condition put out for the trash collection, e.g., rakes, broom, kid’s slide and kid’s picnic table, drawers, lawn chairs, fencing. Time is of the essence, and putting things out for trash collection is quick and easy. Is there an alternative as quick and easy?

    • Arlwhenever

      Freecycle is close.

    • R.Griffon

      The responsible thing is rarely quick and easy.

  • Ugh

    I wonder if the majority of folks donating are actually “generous,” or if a Goodwill dropoff is just the easiest way to dispose of the stuff they’re trying to get rid of (since bulky items can’t always be trashed in the standard way) AND/OR get a write-off.
    Perhaps it’s irrelevant in the grand scheme as long as the donations are monetized for a worthy cause and some goods are recycled. I just wouldn’t attribute this Goodwill’s success purely to altruism.

    • AllenB

      Glass half full meets glass half empty. Sigh….

    • CW

      It is true though. Disposal of things is inherently more difficult than in more rural areas.

      • R.Griffon

        Not true. The majority of things donated at Goodwill would fit right in your trash can (and certainly be easier). For bulky items, a phone call to the County for a special pickup is much easier than packing something up and driving it to Goodwill.

    • doodly

      I give stuff I want to get rid of. However, I give it instead of throwing it in the trash. So it’s not the giving, but rather making the effort to take it to a donation site instead of just dumping it in the trash can that is charitable.

  • ArlingtonNative

    Just as an FYI … when you go to a web-site to schedule a donation (Lupus, Disabled Vets, VVA, etc.) pay close attention to the URL for the site. In most cases these days, the pick-up is NOT done by the organization you’re donating to.
    There is a big business these days for companies that pick this stuff up, recycle into their own thrift/2nd hand centers and then “donate” a portion of those proceeds back to the organization… typically, they donate maybe 10% back. While it might seem like insignificant amount due to the 2nd hand nature, it is actually big $ (ie: these companies make $M’s/year with very little overhead). So, if you’re actually interested in your discards going to a good cause, dropping off at a Goodwill center or collection center for your preferred charity is best way to get the items into the hands of those who need them.

  • Ugh

    Specifically, I’m just saying I wouldn’t open the story with “Arlington residents are nothing if not generous.” Not trying to debate Kantian ethics.

    For whatever reason, Arlingtonians donate a lot of junk to someone who will take it. That doesn’t mean they’re generous. Just means they donate a lot of things they consider junk. That’s the only conclusion we can draw from the raw numbers provided.

    • Ugg

      You’re absolutely trying to debate Kantian ethics since you’re arguing against motive. Duh.

      I suppose it’s selfish to go out of your way to give items to a charitable organization rather than take 30 seconds to throw them out…?

  • Off topic

    Does anyone know what the building was before Goodwill moved in? Part of the old girls school maybe?

    • Grateful

      The building was the same except it was occupied by the now defunct W. Bell & Co. catalog showroom store.

      • Grateful

        Correction-I believe it was an Evans catalog showroom.

        • FrenchyB

          Yep, I remember it being an Evans too (greatly inferior to W. Bell & Co.)

          • Stu Pendus

            Evans was a great place to buy Atari cartridges. They always had the newest stuff first, and on sale.

          • John Fontain

            Wow, this is bringing back some memories. Hearing all these names of old stores is making me think back to Service Merchandise and Best.

        • novaqt

          Correstion — it was w. Bell & Co. first and then Evans.

        • novaqt

          Correcton — it was W. Bell & Co. first and then was sold to Evans catalog showroom

    • darrel

      it was an AMES store.

    • charlie

      it was Evans.
      and Preston Caruthers owned it. and sold it to Goodwill at a discount.
      What a nice way to tie all the stories together today ARLNOW.

      • novaqt

        Preston Caruthers must own a lot of property in that area. He owns the Dominion Arms building. Does anyone know if he owns the little strip center next to Goodwill?

  • CJC

    Try donating on a weeknight – the lines are a LOT shorter (or non-existent) and the guys seem less rushed and more likely to be somewhat helpful. I think the Arlington donation center is open until 8:30pm on weeknights.

  • SB

    This might explain why one day I went and they weren’t accepting donations. I guess it’s good that they have too much on their hands – or it could just show that Arlingtonians have a lot of money to throw around on things that they’re willing to dispose of quickly.

  • KalashniKEV

    I drop off at the thing behind E-W Grill. I still haven’t seen any of the local Bums sporting the new, fresh white pair of Starbury Dunks I put in last spring. (they just weren’t me)

    Now that I think of it, I hope they don’t give aid to Criminal Aliens…

    • doodly

      You donate? Why? You’re just enabling the bums.

      • KalashniKEV

        I know, but I think of it more like recycling. There are good, working people who receive assistance. I’ll know if I see one of the Bums Menacing people while wearing my dunks that I’ve made a grave mistake. If I happen to see a Criminal Alien though… well, how can I be quite sure that they’re mine???

        I should have marked them in some way.

        • doodly

          So unemployed people are the scum. Thanks for clarifying.

  • JennX

    Anyone else suspect that the surge in donations is driven by the popularity of “Hoarders” and similar programs? Every time I watch that show I take at least several boxes to Goodwill the next weekend.

    And agree– I’m not doing it to be “generous” per se. It’s more about stuff I don’t want anymore (not necessarily “junk”) not being wasted. I always hope it will find a second life with someone who needs DVDs I don’t watch, clothes that no longer fit, etc. If it is truly junk– broken, torn, etc., I put it in the trash. I don’t treat Goodwill as an alternative to the landfill.

    • KalashniKEV

      When I was an excavation laborer at Ground Zero they delivered huge cubes of Good Will clothes compacted in some sort of hay bailer and with metal ribbon binding them together. I put on a fat man’s tuxedo pants with satin stripe over my work pants… it was very funny. Then the rest of the clothes sat there and got rained and snowed on. When they started to rot an excavator put them in a dump truck with some rubble and away they went.

      • CW

        Why did they do that?

        • KalashniKEV

          I guess they thought we needed clothes? All kinds of random HA was showing up throughout… basically all of the things that should have been available during Katrina, but weren’t.

  • BB

    I prefer Salvation Army…

  • Jtak

    Hey BB, tell me what the Salvation Army’s mission is. And please do it before you look it up online.

    I’m proud to know that many of you are more concerned with being treated like saviors than actually doing something simply because it’s the right thing to do. How noble! I’ll be sure to use you as an example of the person my son shouldn’t become.

    Many of these people have never worked before and are only trying to do what they think is most efficient. When was the last time you broke a sweat at the water cooler?

  • Lou

    This ain’t chat. You can’t tell someone to go do something in realtime because even if they said they did it, they didn’t.

    • charlie

      i love you lou.

  • OfficerRickey

    A lot of you guys are quite rude with the comments. Let’s try to be nice

    • Josh S

      I think it’s the only reason some people visit the site. I hesitate to go into the psychology of it all – I fear where it might lead…..

      • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

        i agree with Josh. lot of pseudo-powerful keyboards in here. sad.

        • Yammy

          It’s the internet. You’ll get over it.

  • novaqt

    I have dropped off bags and boxes of items at Goodwill a few times because of its convenience. I prefer Salvation Army in Annandale since all you do is drive-thru. You do not get out of your car. There are numerous guys who go up to the cars and unload them while another gives you a receipt. Much more efficient than Goodwill.

    Arlwhenever, the Nordstrom comment in response to Sigh was inappropriate. You lost your argument when you went on to add that sentence. It only demonstrated that perhaps everyone who works at Goodwill needs to learn good Customer Service Skills and how to interact with people in general. Remember you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. It’s very admirable for Goodwill to help the so-called “unemployable” train for and find jobs.

  • vikafo

    They are over priced for used things. This is greed beyond belief!


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