Unauthorized donations cause more harm than help

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By Nathaniel Williams II

First of all, I enjoy working at Goodwill. Second, my co-workers are friendly and supportive. Third, Goodwill and its employees have no connection to this article except for one. Now to the main content:

To save our city from gentrification, we must preserve it. At the East 72nd Street Goodwill, I am awakened every day by the trash, furniture and bags of clothes left outside of it after closing hours. The mess serves as a daily symbol of the care we have for our city, which in recent times has been more and more dominated by rich, tech-focused individuals. Then, you donate when Goodwill Donations is temporarily closed for the purpose of obvious cleanup, but you justify your action by telling yourself that your time is too important to wait for an opportunity during our everyday open hours. Leaving stuff overnight at a Goodwill Center and acting like a magical fairy will appear from the stars and sweep it all away constantly leaves me astounded, since this avoidable act will lead to a series of unfortunate events.

The problem is not just about me, but rather those most affected by bad donations. I do not blame the homeless for grabbing the useful stuff left unattended. But the problem with leaving stuff overnight is that rather than donating your new blankets during open hours, when the items are distributed properly, you make it a free for all that can lead to dangerous situations during the dark night. This reflects badly on our city as we litter and allow the homeless to scavenge in an unsafe manner, rather than provide adequate resources so that they do not have to look through Goodwill’s objects. Commuters pass by at night and early morning to see scattered homeless people and items, and make judgments that I assume are negative or at least filled with pity.

Goodwill looks terrible because of the mess left outside of it by you. This leads to a developer buying it at a below-market value, and this developer wants profits and puts a row of shops including a Starbucks (I know there is one two minutes away). This increases the market value of the properties around it and developers buy those as well and make the same capitalistic-driven decisions. This attracts newcomers (or invaders) and government-funded infrastructure projects rather than affordable housing, which means housing prices go up and up and up…all the way through the exit gates of gentrification. This problem concerns all of us.

P.S. Goodwill has amazing educational and career programs such as the REACH center, which are financed by donated items – but only when bought and not when they first touch the gravel.

Nathaniel Williams II is a Tacoma resident.

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