This story is originally from KTAB/KRBC's Hidden Gems segment. Click here to see more from this story and others around the Big Country.
When you donate items to Goodwill, most of those items are sold to the community at a low price, but what happens to the items that are given to Goodwill that can’t be sold?
Items that can’t be sold are brought to a salvaging area, where they are donated, once again, to another good cause.
When you walk into the salvaging area on North 1st Street, you will find a baler, like Jeff Hinchcliffe. Hinchcliffe throws clothes or linens into a compressor, creating bales of items to be shipped.
Hinchcliffe told KTAB/KRBC this job has given him stability, after facing unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, “It was like a year and a half without a job.”
Applying to work at Goodwill, Hinchcliffe said he was delighted to get the job, but then he said he was evicted soon after. Not long after that, he said he lost his cat who he called his best friend, “I had him for eight and a half years.”
Goodwill said it stepped up to help its new employee, Hinchcliffe, again by offering him a home through a grant. Now, Hinchcliffe says he feels like he is able to give back to the community by keeping waste out of the landfills and helping the lives of items last longer.
Salvaging Manager, Ray Castillo said it’s stories like Hinchcliffe’s that gives importance to his job. While he said his position is new, he felt needed in order to create more opportunities for Goodwill to reuse and recycle the goods it receives.
Castillo told KTAB/KRBC the items that make it to the salvaging area are either stained or worn, or they are not sold in the store for four to five weeks. After that period, the goods are thrown into a compressor and turned into clothing bales.
“So, we’ll have a re-seller come in and usually buy 48 of these bales,” Castillo explained. “They purchase them and take them to, say, Canada or Mexico, and they resale them over there.”
A number is written on the clothing bales, showing how much the bale weighs, which averages right around 900 pounds.
“Last year, Goodwill of West Texas salvaged 3.5 million pounds of donated goods,” said Kaitlin Paonessa, Director of Communications for Goodwill West Texas.
Paonessa said this job helps recycle these products, and it helps the employees have a stable income.
“You can feel good donating to Goodwill knowing that you are going to extend the lives of your items that you no longer need, and that those items are going to help fund programs that are going to help people,” encouraged Paonessa.
Donations, according to Paonessa, can help people like Hinchcliffe, who, by the way, finally got a new best friend. A new cat he calls Greebo!
Other items can also be sold to vendors, besides clothes. The vendors Goodwill currently has buys accessories, books, shoes, linens, and clothes. The newest addition to the list is a vendor that buys children’s toys.