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Goodwill offers tips for year-end donors

Goodwill of North Georgia is working to remind potential donors to inspect their items before turning them over for someone else to use.

Elaine Armstrong, the director of public relations for the North Georgia region, which includes 34 stores and more than 50 donation centers, said the week preceding New Year's Day is the busiest period for Goodwill all year.

"According to the Internal Revenue Service, taxpayers may claim a deduction for donated items that are in good, used condition, or better," said Armstrong.

"The last week of 2009, we received over 59,000 donations ... from all of our stores across North Georgia. Almost 18,000 of those were on the last day alone, Dec. 31." she said. "A lot of people get new things for Christmas, and they're putting away their old things, but they're also trying to beat the Dec. 31, deadline, if they want to claim a deduction on their taxes."

The mission of Goodwill of North Georgia, said Armstrong, is to put people to work. "We have been providing services in the region for more than 80 years," she said. "In fiscal year 2010, we provided job-training and employment services to more than 28,654 people, and helped 6,678 people find jobs or start new businesses."

Area residents should take precautions to ensure their items are ready for donation, according to Armstrong. She said donors should check to make sure pockets on clothing are empty, and that items can be accepted Goodwill.

"There are a few household items Goodwill cannot accept," she said. "Among them are mattresses, large appliances, weapons, chemicals, and carpeting."

Donors should ask themselves, she said, whether they would donate a given item to a family member, or friend.

"Goodwill understands that its shoppers look for quality items when visiting its stores," she explained. "Therefore, the nonprofit has a policy against selling torn, stained, and water-soaked items."

Goodwill also accepts used computers, cellular phones and other electronic devices. However, donors must erase memory and other personal information from those items before donating them, according to Armstrong.

She said donors should also make a record of items they donate, in case documentation is needed for the federal government.

Chris Brown, the general manager of the Stockbridge Goodwill store, located at 3871 Ga. Highway 138, said numerous donors have visited his store recently, to bring items.

"They're coming in U-Hauls, sometimes, two and three cars at a time," said Brown. "A lot of them are just cleaning out, or downsizing, or they'll get new things for Christmas, and start getting rid of things that are older."

Brown added that he expects this week to be as active, "if not busier," for his store as it was last year, and encouraged the public to beat the rush.

"Get the donations over to us as conveniently as possible, and just make sure that everything is according to our standards as far as our quality guidelines," he said. "We'll get them unloaded and get them on their way as quickly as possible."

David Kight dropped off electronics at the store on Monday. He said this holiday season provides a convenient time for him to donate to Goodwill. "Now's a good time, because I'm on vacation," Kight said. "It's my chance to clean around the house."

Virginia Davis, of Stockbridge, is a regular customer at the Stockbridge store, along with her husband, Phillip. She said they normally find better clothes at the store, than at other retail locations. "You don't find anything with holes in it, like you do at other thrift stores," she said. "Overall, I have to say it's the best place to shop. All my clothes come from here."

Brian Hadden, of McDonough, said he enjoys coming to Goodwill, as an "economical" alternative to shopping elsewhere.

"There's always a rare find here," said Hadden. "It's the best form of charity. Everybody wins. There's no guilty-buying, and you're giving back at the same time."