Despite the fact that the number of donors to Goodwill Industries dropped slightly in 2005, Meredith Vasquez, the executive director for Goodwill Industries CSRA, said 2005 was a great year.
"It was an outstanding year," Vasquez said.
For December, Vasquez said, 19,925 donors gave goods to Goodwill in the Augusta area, including donations to several sites in Martinez. Of that monthly total, which was a decrease of about 5,000 donors compared to the previous year, she said 7,000 gave during the final three days of the month.
"We literally had to have additional labor moved to that (Martinez retail store) location for New Year's Eve," Vasquez said. "And of course people are wanting that last-minute tax deduction, too."
Vasquez said Goodwill collected items from 240,721 donors in 2005. She attributes the decrease in donations during the year to Hurricane Katrina.
"Perhaps during the Katrina disaster, perhaps people sent clothes outside of our region, when usually the focus is charity starts first at home," Vasquez said. "At that time we had to help our neighbors. Actually even Goodwill raised $25,000 cash through the sale of people's donated items to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"And we're still helping those who have chosen to relocate to our area find jobs."
Despite the slight drop in donations, Vasquez said reorganizing of Goodwill procedures accounted for some extra profits for Goodwill's mission, including job-training programs.
Processing donations has changed from being done at a central location to six retail locations.
Sorting donated household and clothing items at each site, Vasquez said, streamlined the process and dramatically increased profits - by 49 percent.
"This year, we have really improved our efficiency in our processing," Vasquez. "... Our sales revenue has dramatically increased ... It is a more efficient process. Our transportation costs were greatly reduced.
"It was the perfect time. In these days, sometimes we have to do more with less. We were really able to generate that extra revenue to serve more people. So that was exciting," she said.
Profits generated at the retail stores go to support Goodwill's mission, which includes job training at the stores.
"The good news is the stores are more profitable for the benefit of our mission," Vasquez said.
Of the six Goodwill retail locations in the area and the 31 in the Middle Georgia Region, Vasquez said the Martinez store on Washington Road brought in the largest sales volume, generating about $1.5 million in 2005.
"That is just phenomenal and it is because we have more donors at that location than any other location in our entire 31 counties," Vasquez said.
"So the people in Martinez, Evans, Columbia County are very generous and they understand our mission, that when they give something to Goodwill it is ... not a handout but a hand up to help people become self-sufficient."
Vasquez said Goodwill's good year in the Augusta area is evident because the nonprofit is about to begin a feasibility study to explore building a career and conference center in the area.
The center, she said, will include a flagship retail store, training venues and a health clinic among other things.
"Yes, we had a good year, and it gives us confidence to know that we can grow our training programs and we can grow our effectiveness to meet local work force needs here in the CSRA," Vasquez said.
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