“Oh yeah that will fit” – every Goodwill Columbus team member describing any situation that involves trying to fit one more thing in to a space that you can’t imagine it fitting in.

As the doors closed on the semi-truck we had just filled with donations, I started kicking myself for not grabbing a picture of the truck. I often end up so engulfed in the event that I forget to take a picture, since me describing how full the truck was to you the loyal reader simply wouldn’t do it justice. Moments later another car pulled around the corner…with a couch and a table. Despite saying we wouldn’t take any more donations, sometimes it is just hard to say no. So as they asked if we could take it, the Goodwill team said yes. They would make it fit. They would find a way. And I would get one more shot at that picture of the now even a little more full semi-truck.

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Ian pointing out all of the open space we still have in the back of the truck…

As I parked my car and walked over to meet the Goodwill Columbus crew that morning, I immediately realized my pants were a far better option than the shorts I had considered wearing. It was a windy, rainy day in Columbus, but you certainly wouldn’t have known it working with the Goodwill team on this Saturday. We were in a parking lot not too far from German Village where a multi-block yard sale was going on. The idea was that we would collect donations from the individuals who didn’t have any luck selling the items. We had one semi-truck at our location and one at another. We quickly got to work setting up the pallets and the gaylords (a term for the big boxes that I learned…). These were in a nice row leading up to the semi-truck…all we needed now was everyone from the garage sale to show up. This however would have been hard, so the Goodwill team made it easy for the donors by offering to pick up the donations directly from them at their sale.

After we had things setup, I found myself in a mini-van with no back seats. As you may be guessing, I was in the back. We headed to the yard sale area with flyers and bags. Another volunteer, Ian, and I were assigned a couple blocks. I couldn’t believe how many people were setup on the side of the road with their stands. We started spreading the word about the option to donate any unsold items. If they thought they could donate, we dropped off bags that we could pick up even if they were not there. We quickly realized we only had so many flyers, so we began to get selective. Let’s just say if you were selling baked goods, you probably didn’t hear from us. As we finished up our block, we handed out our last flyer and called for the ride back.

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The truck wouldn’t be empty for long…

On the way back, we passed a few more and now had more flyers, so I asked to hop out. One guy wanted to donate his T.V. on the spot. For some reason this gave me a little adrenaline rush…my first donation of the day! This was squelched as I rushed back to the van only to learn that we only take flat screen TV’s. Slightly shocked at first, but the explanation made sense in terms of the man-power it takes to move them and the overabundance of them they had in the stores without any selling. Still hard to believe tube TV’s are now past their goodwill days. When we got back to the lot, we regrouped and prepared for the heavy lifting in the afternoon.

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Kelly taking phone call after phone call of willing donors.

Kelly (our fearless leader) had calls pouring in to let her know they had some things for us to pick-up. We had 4 van crews that hit the road while Kelly, Doug, and I manned the parking lot. Our job was to unload any cars that came by on their own, as well as unload the vans when they returned. The sorting process was simple (computers, soft lines, and hard lines). Even these categories became blurred towards the end as almost everything turned into hard lines. Some of the bigger items just went directly in the semi-truck. When the first bike came in, I hopped on the opportunity to put it in the semi. This was mostly because I had never been in the back of a semi before. As we filled more and more gaylords, Doug finally convinced me to give the pallet jack a try. Doug had far more confidence in me than I had at that point. He made the process sound and look like a breeze. I went with a soft lines box first. I figured if this tipped over, none of the shirts would break as they hit the ground. I didn’t tip it, but we will just leave it at…I didn’t get it on my first try. Eventually, I did get the hang of it and I’ll say it was pretty rewarding to get it down.

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It took me fewer forward-reverse combos the first time I parallel parked my car…

As more items came flowing in, Kelly continuously talked about a second truck showing up. Eventually, it did show up. The issue was that it was already pretty full. That being said, the team refused to leave anything behind and took donations right up until the very end. In the end, they found room for everything and there is no doubt their tetris skills are second to none. Although tetris skills might be an added benefit, I was most impressed to see how upbeat and dedicated this group of employees was on a rainy Saturday.

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The expert at work. Doug once found and returned $14,000 from an old suit pocket when he was a clothes sorter. He has now worked his way to box truck driver.

All in all the German Village Valuables drive raised an estimated $7,000 which will go directly toward transforming the lives of individuals in Central Ohio. In addition, the team that morning was able to divert over 6 tons of material from our landfills. Let me put it this way for you…everything I currently have in my Sentra on this trip would have easily fit in one Gaylord…and we filled almost 50 between the 2 trucks. Or as Kelly put it much simpler, “A Great Day!”

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It was truly the people that made this a great day.

P.S. If you ever find yourself moving to a new house and a pallet jack is involved…you know who to call!

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