After a hurricane or natural disaster affects a large part of our community, the question is often asked, "Is Goodwill Manasota donating goods to those in need or doing anything to help?"
The truth is - WE ARE! Just maybe not in the way you're expecting.
Let me explain.
It has been proven time and time again that when someone loses their home in a natural disaster, the last thing they need right away is new stuff. Whether that stuff is furniture, household goods, children's toys, clothing, or linens - these things are not a top priority. What people DO need are their most basic needs to be taken care of - needs like food and shelter.
Imagine if a disaster were to strike and leave you without a place to call home, would you really want someone trying to give you more things to find a place to store? Think of all the pictures on social media of the piles and piles of clothing that were donated to flood victims of Harvey in Texas - clothing that was largely unnecessary at the moment. Someone else's gently used pair of jeans isn't going to help you find a place to sleep at night.
But you know who can help you find a place to sleep at night? And who can help make sure your basic needs are being met BEFORE you start worrying about new possessions? An organization like the American Red Cross whose focus is on providing these type of services. Goodwill's mission is changing lives through the power of work - providing jobs and job training to those with barriers to employment through the sale of donated goods. We don't have the resources to house people or feed them every day, but organizations whose mission it is to do just that DO. And just like Goodwill doesn't have the resources to feed and house those in need, organizations whose focus is on food and shelter do not have the resources to collect, store, and redistribute clothing and household items to victims of disaster.
So what is Goodwill Manasota doing to help? Through ongoing partnerships with both local and national organizations such as the Red Cross, Goodwill Manasota provides vouchers to those in need WHEN they need them. After making sure you have a roof over your head and food in your belly, your case manager through the organization you've been working with will come to us and let us know it's time to help restock the material possessions lost. They'll give you a voucher to come into one of our stores and you can use that voucher for furniture, clothing, housewares - whatever it is you need. In response to Hurricane Irma's impact on Florida, Goodwill Manasota has already provided our local Red Cross with 250 store vouchers to distribute in our area as they see fit.
And we don't just provide vouchers after disaster strikes, our partnerships with these organizations and dedication to helping our community is a year round commitment. Since the inception of this program we have provided over a million dollars' worth of vouchers to those in need here in the four counties we serve.
So if you or someone you know has been a victim of disaster or has fallen on hard times and needs financial or housing assistance, reach out to one of our community partners. Then when the time comes to restock your home - we're here to help.