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Tomah’s Sack It to Goodwill donation drive hits streets Oct. 7

The Tomah Goodwill Retail Store and Training Center will host the community’s annual Sack It to Goodwill donation drive on Saturday, Oct. 7.

More than 3,000 donation sacks have been distributed to homes in Tomah, with dates and times (9 a.m.-noon) and a donation receipt attached. Special Olympians and volunteer drivers — all from Tomah — will be scouring the streets, doing curbside pickup of donated clothing, housewares, sporting goods and other used merchandise.

Items must be placed on the curb, and can be placed in additional boxes or bags if they don’t fit in the plastic “Sack It” bags.

“We’re excited to bring this opportunity to our community,” said Tomah store team leader Deb Cota-Farmer. “This ‘Sack It’ donation drive gets bigger and better every year, and helps us serve Tomah in a special way. We have a great relationship with this area.”

This longtime annual Tomah event — now in its 13th year — is the largest single-day donation effort of the year in the market. Donations can also be delivered to the Tomah Goodwill NCW retail store and training center, which is open for donations Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The sale of donated goods supports 29 programs and services that Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin offers across the state.

The Tomah Retail Store and Training Center, 1516 N. Superior Ave., employed 53 team members in 2015, with 67 people getting a total of 6,153 hours of vocational training. The store leadership, led by Cota-Farmer, worked with eight local service agencies to promote job training and development that year.

Almost 899,000 pounds of donations — closing in on 450 tons! — were received at the Tomah Goodwill NCW location in 2016, an important part of the more than 49 million pounds of donations received across Wisconsin by the full organization.

Here’s how Goodwill NCW serves Tomah and the greater Coulee Region; five programs serve the full La Crosse/Coulee Region:

  • Community Development Program: Hands-on training and work experience for individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment.
  • School-to-Work: Opportunities for high school students with special needs to develop work skills and behaviors through paid employment and classroom learning.
  • Work Adjustment Training/Work Services: Short- and long-term training programs at Goodwill worksites for people with disabilities to develop work skills and behaviors.
  • GoodNeighbor: Provides free emergency clothing and/or household items at Goodwill NCW stores through certificates distributed by community human service agencies.
  • Circles of Care: Provides support and counseling for Goodwill NCW team members in the areas of finances, health and wellness, spiritual and emotional well-being, and career-pathing.

Our Tomah store also oversees the L.I.F.E. (Learning Independent Future Environments) apartment, where high school juniors and seniors with special needs learn real-life skills — cleaning, cooking, etc. Some of those students also gain job experience (and minimum-wage pay) in the Tomah store. The goal of L.I.F.E. is to facilitate the eventual transition from high school to life-after-high school.

Here’s a link to a 2015 story from The Tomah Journal about the program: http://lacrossetribune.com/tomahjournal/news/goodwill-program-teaches-work-life-skills/article_ed5d5567-f5d0-5d2d-a2e8-14f3b3161826.html

At our La Crosse, Onalaska and Tomah stores, Goodwill has contractual work relationships with Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs). These contracts involve the local CRP providing a crew, including of up to three people with disabilities and possibly a job coach, to perform work at their Goodwill Retail Store & Training Center.

In Tomah, Goodwill offers a 12-week work program to veterans who are served by local agencies.

About Goodwill NCW: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that in 2016 helped improve the lives of more than 63,368 people across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization offers 29 human services programs and partnership, supported by the sale of donated merchandise in 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, and as far north as Rice Lake and Rhinelander, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, and online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com and www.reStitch.com, which offers women’s apparel at bargain prices. It offers four Donation Express sites in the Fox Valley, and 30 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities and surrounding communities. Visit the website at www.goodwillncw.org.

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