by Patricia Muhammad
LANSING, Ill. (December 23, 2017) – People from all races and economic backgrounds shop at thrift stores, but many don’t realize the charitable work that thrift stores in the Lansing area are doing to help residents.
Goodwill—getting people back to work
Guy Fisher, Vice President for Mission Advancement for the Northwest Indiana region in South Bend, Indiana, set the record straight about Goodwill being “just another thrift store.” Fisher explained that Goodwill provides much-needed educational and job services to the public. He said, “Our first and foremost goal is to help people get back to work. Outside of being a thrift store, our focus is on education, training, and job placement.”
In Lake County Goodwill provides youth training, so 16-24-year-olds receive job placement with local businesses while they get paid for the work they do.
Fisher furthered commented: “There is a misconception out there somehow that Goodwill is a national corporation that has an owner somewhere who is pulling all the strings, telling us what to do, and making all sorts of money. That is so far from the truth!”
At thrift stores shoppers can easily buy “an already worn coat, a pair of boots or wool sweater,” but in actuality, thrift stores are silent unsung heroes providing special services to the public, and the magnitude of their public service is far-reaching.
Help in Hammond and throughout Northwest Indiana
Fisher stated that back in the fall of this year, Goodwill opened the Excel Center in Hammond to help adults in Indiana get their high school diploma by purchasing a building and renovated it into a high school. “This is not a GED program,” he explained. “The diploma is the Indiana High School Diploma, the same thing at Crown Point, Lake Central, and Gary.” The Excel Center’s grand opening is February 2018.
Fisher relayed that there are 162 Goodwill regions in the US, and they are all part of the Greater Goodwill family. Goodwill covers 16 counties in Northwest Indiana, and the Lansing Goodwill—right on the Indiana border—is one of the many Goodwill stores in the region.
Goodwill takes 88 cents of every dollar of Goodwill store purchases and donates the funds back toward internal initiatives centered on education, training, and job placement. “The dollar amount put back toward mission tells you whether or not [not-for-profits] are true at doing what they say they do,” Fisher said.
Goodwill started over 115 years ago by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms of Boston. Helms was a Methodist minister who helped the poor with clothing items and used home goods.
New 2 You—providing education assistance
New 2 You is another thrift store that believes in giving back. Since the store’s beginning, it has made significant contributions to Lansing Christian School in Lansing, Illinois, and Calvin Christian School, in South Holland, Illinois. “All proceeds go back to Calvin and Lansing Christian School. We pay our bills, and the school receives the remaining donations. New 2 You donated over three million dollars over the past 17 years,” said Trisha Boss, Director of New 2 You.
Parents who work at the store receive credit towards their children’s tuition. Work is strictly volunteer. Those who volunteer are mostly grandparents, aunts, uncles, and graduates whose children attend Lansing Christian School or Calvin Christian School.
Investing in Lansing
The store was once located in Calumet City and known as Harvest Thrift Center. But when the anchor store in that shopping plaza left, sales at the thrift store began to decline. The Board began searching for a new location.
The former Dekker Electric building near the corner of Ridge Road and Torrence Avenue in Lansing was available. Because the building had been vacant for a number of years and had been vandalized, the Board committed to investing the time and resources needed to make the store an inviting place to shop. The new store, renamed New 2 You, opened its doors for business on December 4, 2015.
Shoppers will find clothing items, furniture, seasonal items, toys, books, housewares, jewelry and crafts, shoes and purses, antiques. Boss commented, “We try to keep the store nice and clean, and it is well organized. We do notice that seasonal items such as Christmas products drive sales up.”
The store has about 14-20 volunteers, including department heads. Volunteers keep the store tidy. They also sort clothing, place clothing items on racks, and receive items in the back of the store.
In turn, New 2 You gives back to all its volunteers. She said, “For one week during mid-December, there is a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.”
New 2 You is located at 18230 Torrence Avenue. Store hours are Tuesday-Friday 9:00am–3:00pm, and Saturday 10:00am–3:00pm. Sunday and Monday the store is closed.
You can find Goodwill in Lansing at 3769 Ridge Road. The store hours are Monday–Friday 9:00am–7:00pm; Saturday 8:00am–7:00pm; Sunday 12:00–5:00pm.