Sweaters and shoes, a rain jacket I stopped wearing ages ago, pants that no longer fit, baby items, all that and more were in bags in the back of my car — for weeks.
Until Saturday, that is. I lined up along with dozens of others waiting in cars and inched my way toward Seattle Goodwill’s donation center near Martha Lake in Lynnwood.
Goodwill stores remain closed in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. But several donation sites in the region, including the one by Martha Lake, reopened the first weekend in May. Now, along with the Lynnwood center on 164th St. SW, there’s another Snohomish County donation site, a pop-up location outside Goodwill’s Everett Outlet on W. Casino Road.
I was part of a glut of donors last weekend. So many people brought so much stuff that Goodwill temporarily closed the sites Monday and Tuesday to safely catch up. They’re open again at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and another site in Snohomish may soon be added, said Tammy McKenzie, Seattle Goodwill’s senior director of marketing and communications.
“Based on volume, we couldn’t keep up,” McKenzie said Monday. “It’s that people are home, looking at all their stuff. And it’s time for spring cleaning.”
Being in that line of cars along Seventh Place W. in Lynnwood Saturday, it appeared the coronavirus closure has lots of us digging deeper than any typical spring cleanup. Most cars moved fairly quickly past homes and toward the drop-off line. Donors unloaded their stuff into bins as masked and gloved Goodwill workers offered thanks and tax-deduction receipts. One vehicle up ahead took quite awhile — as the full load from a utility trailer was unpacked.
Along with clothes, there were plenty of toys, kitchen items, electronics and other household goods being unloaded from trunks and back seats. McKenzie said Goodwill isn’t currently accepting furniture. “We got a fair amount of toys. It’s a good mix,” she said.
Elsewhere around Snohomish County, some bins operated by the clothing recycling company Retex Northwest and other organizations were recently found — by me — to be stuffed beyond capacity or not in working order. Franklyn Arroyo, from the Salvation Army’s Northwest Division, said by email Wednesday that the organization’s donation box in the Fred Meyer parking lot at 12906 Bothell Everett Highway is open, along with one in Shoreline and others in King and Pierce counties.
All items being donated to Goodwill were to be treated with a CDC-approved antiviral misting agent, much like cleaning protocols for King County Metro buses, McKenzie said. To avoid long lines at donation sites, she suggests going in the morning and on weekdays rather than weekends.
The reopening of donor sites helps not only those of us clearing clutter but Goodwill workers, who’ve been furloughed during store closures. “We put 90 percent of our employee base on standby,” said McKenzie, so work at the donation sites means much-needed paychecks.
A nonprofit founded in 1923, Seattle Goodwill operates in King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom and Kitsap counties. Along with 24 retail stores, it runs five Job Training and Education Centers that offer free programs, including one at 210 SW Everett Mall Way. Seattle Goodwill employs more than 2,000 people in the region, according to its website.
The training efforts are separate from Goodwill stores, but McKenzie said many who are helped by educational programs do find work with the nonprofit. Due to the coronavirus, training outreach is now only online or by phone.
Yet now more than ever, McKenzie sees a massive need for workers and those out of work to boost their skills.
“We focus on preparing people for a better job,” she said. “Right now, a lot of folks don’t have jobs. What we do is going to be extra, extra important.”
All the more reason to keep making my way through closets and drawers. Do I really need an outfit worn to one of my children’s high school graduations — when those kids are now in their 30s? Nope, but maybe someone does.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to donate
Seattle Goodwill has two donation sites open in Snohomish County, one in Woodinville, and Seattle locations. (Snohomish site is closed):
• Martha Lake: 710 164th St. SW, Lynnwood, open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
• Everett pop-up donation site: 2208 W. Casino Road, open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
• Woodinville Park & Ride Center, 17800 140th Ave. N., Woodinville, open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
The Salvation Army has donation drop boxes in the Fred Meyer parking lot at 12906 Bothell Everett Highway open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and one in Shoreline at 15403 Westminster Way N. open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sundays.