San Mateo Goodwill

Clearing closets, and the way for a new year – San Mateo Goodwill transforms donations into treasures

By SF Goodwill

The Daily Journal
For many, the lull after the holidays offers opportunities to draft resolutions, get rid of last year’s clutter and turn over a new leaf for a new year.

So it may come as no surprise Peninsula residents with the same impulse to purge their homes of unnecessary items are lining up at area donation centers with bags of toys, books, furniture and other odds and ends. Redwood City resident Eric Humke said the end of the year always inspires him and his family to think about what they don’t use anymore. As he dropped off shoes, a scooter, children’s books and clothes neither of his two children use anymore at Goodwill’s San Mateo store and donation drop, Humke could describe the feeling of shedding the items with one word.
“Cleansing, “ he said. “Also hoping that someone else can get just as much out of it as we did.”

The influx of donations has those welcoming them kicking into high gear for the holidays and the days that follow. For Michael Ware, donation director at Goodwill of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, managing logistics for the thousands of items received at the nonprofit’s 31 donation sites is all he can think about from mid-December to mid-January, when the nonprofit historically receives 30 percent to 35 percent of its yearly donations.

San Mateo Goodwill

San Mateo Goodwill
After working at the store and donation center for more than two years, Payton Liautaud knows Dec. 31 is the location’s busiest day, when hundreds of cars line up to drop off items they no longer need.

“For us, it’s all hands on deck,” he said. “It’s literally like our Christmas for donations.”

He said the Goodwill store and donation drop at 28 W. 25th Ave. is the organization’s busiest site, logging more than 250 to 300 donors a day. He noted that end-of-year tax writeoffs, a sense of obligation to get rid of old items after holiday gift exchanges and even businesses with extra supplies in December are among the many reasons donors line their cars up outside Goodwill donation centers.

But making sure the wide array of items arriving at their warehouse doors are sorted, priced and hit store floors as soon as possible is no small feat. From working at the San Mateo store and donation drop for the last two and a half years, Payton Liautaud knows the flow of vehicles and items is almost nonstop on New Year’s Eve. He and three other employees working Dec. 31 filled one 50-foot trailer in some five hours and nearly half of another with items donors contributed before their eight-hour shift was finished.

“That just tells you how much we’re getting,” he said.
Though Liautaud has experience sorting, pricing and working the register at the San Mateo store, he has been focused on honing his team’s strategy for receiving items from donors eager to see their items reused, figuring out the most efficient way to ferry large furniture items and fragile glasses from car trunks to the store’s warehouse.

William Rogers, the nonprofit’s president and CEO for San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, said the joy donors feel in seeing beloved items they no longer need find a new home is just one of the positives coming out of the donation spree. He added that gaining experience with logistics and other skills is a boon for employees like Liautaud, who are able to grow their skill sets along with the number of contributions the nonprofit logs.
Keeping hard-to-recycle items like electronics and other treasured items out of landfills and in the homes of those who appreciate them is yet another added benefit of the season of giving, said Rogers. Ware said the end of the year is often marked by an influx of higher-end items, some of which end up for sale on the nonprofit’s e-commerce website. This year, Ware said he has seen has seen high-quality furniture and fully dry-cleaned professional suits come into donation drops across the Bay Area.

And that’s not even counting the enthusiasm Rogers said patrons exude in finding a bevy of new items to choose from when they shop come February.
“For folks who are value shoppers or treasure seekers, Goodwill is a great place because if you’re looking for value, if you’re looking for a treasure, there’s tons to be found,” he said.

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