After that three-part novel my wife submitted I’m finally back! I have to admit, it was pretty cool to read about my daughter becoming such a savvy shopper, and I was actually relieved to discover I didn’t have to shell out a ton of cash to furnish my son’s college apartment. There is, however, one thing that I simply can’t get out of my mind—what happened to my pants?
Yes, I did have a secret stash of size 38 dress slacks hidden in my house that I fully intended on wearing again. Ok, they were a bit snug, but if I started running on the treadmill again I might be able to someday squeeze into them, but now they’re gone, donated by my wife to the Martinsburg Horizon Goodwill store. Inquisitive by nature, I decided I was going to find out where these amazing pants ended up.
Arriving at the Goodwill store I noticed two large buggies inside the front doors, chock full of clothes, labeled “Donations”. This must be where Missy placed my prized trousers…. “Can I help you?” I was startled from my pondering by a female voice. I turned to see a Goodwill employee wearing a friendly smile.
“Hi. Um, maybe….My wife, she uh, donated some of my pants here a week ago and I was wondering what happened to them.”
“Did you leave something in the pockets?”
“No, no, nothing like that. See, I do some blog writing for Horizon Goodwill and I was just curious as to what happens once clothes are donated. I’m John, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you! I’m Sara. I’ll be happy to walk you through the process. It all starts right here.” She pointed to the buggies. “Donations are placed in these containers and then taken to our processing room in the back of the store. I’m getting ready to take these back, would you like to come and take a look?”
Sara led me to a large room where several cheerful employees were sorting through piles of clothing. “We have strict criteria for what clothing donations we will resell. Here we sort through all of the clothes, placing any items that are ripped, torn, stained or have pet hair on them in separate piles. The items that pass our quality test get tagged with a color, placed on hangers and are either taken onto the sales floor or are transferred to other Goodwill stores for sale. Some of our stores process their own donations and others are supplied by larger locations like this one.”
I had to ask, “What does the color tag signify?”
“Well, each week we use a different color. If an article of clothing hasn’t sold within four weeks it is taken off the floor and placed with the donations that didn’t meet our quality standards. All of those garments are compressed into large bales of fabric and sent off to be recycled. The money we make from recycling textiles helps us provide free job training to the public.”
Pretty cool process, but this still didn’t answer my specific question. I was hoping my pants made it through the initial inspection and were on a hanger somewhere in one of the several area Goodwill retail stores, but it seemed I would never really know for sure.
“So Sara, let me ask you, what do you think happened to my pants?” She laughed, as the question did seem a bit odd to be posed to a stranger. “I would bet your slacks were purchased by a caring customer who is giving them a good home with all the love and attention they deserve!”
Now it was my turn to laugh. Sara added, “But, if that doesn’t bring you any comfort, I can assure you that the majority of the proceeds from your donated pants went directly to helping area residents with barriers to employment receive valuable job training. Does that make you feel any better?”
Actually, it did. I really loved those pants, but I realize my wife was right….I would never fit into them again. I thanked Sara for her time and headed back home wondering how else I could help Goodwill Industries® continue to perform their awesome work. I know Missy has a pretty big shoe collection. I never see her wearing most of them……