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'Huge influx: Local thrift stores see more donations during COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 5:01 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 19:09:43-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Nationwide trends show at thrift stores across the country, donations have gone up during the pandemic.

"This time last year, we had just reopened. We had a huge influx of donations after people were waiting for two months to make their donations. Yes, certainly donations are up and we're very pleased with that increase," said Goodwill Kentucky CEO Amy Luttrell.

So has the Lexington Habitat ReStore.

"We have folks driving up to the back of our store all day, every day to drop off items for us. That's home goods, appliances, furniture, you name it. And the vast majority of those times, we're able to take those items and fill them to help us build or repair homes here in the community," said Brandalin Foster.

Thrift stores have also had to deal with an increase in trash items. However, Goodwill and Lexington Habitat Restore say it hasn't been a big deal for them.

"If there are items that are broken, when they are donated or severely damaged in a way that makes them unsafe or unusable, then we would have to either recycle them properly or put them in the trash," said Megan Meserve. "For the most part, everything makes it into our store and on the sales floor. And we try not to do that unless we have to."

They clean, fix up, and markdown items as low as free to keep eight hundred plus tons of material out of landfills each year.

Goodwill tries to do the same.

"We do have a relatively large trash bill compared to other businesses just due to the nature of what we do. But when you look at those costs, those costs are only about 1% of our overall budget," said Luttrell.

But to make you a better, more responsible donor, wherever you go, they still have some tips to avoid donating trash.

"If you have items you're looking to donate, I would just first make sure that they're usable items. Is this something you or someone you know would have in your home?" said Foster.

Whether it's building or repairing a home, providing a job, or items at a discounted rate, your answer to that question directly helps them better take care of people in need.

Money made at the Lexington Habitat ReStore goes toward building and repairing homes right here in the community.

In the past year, Goodwill has helped more than 230,000 people train for careers in multiple industries, as well as get English language training, additional education, and access to transportation and childcare.