Spring cleaning means decision time for what stays, goes for donations

There is little that Gloria Eubanks hasn’t seen during her nine years with Goodwill.

Now the manager at the nonprofit’s South Tacoma store at 8502 S. Hosmer St., Eubanks said last week, “It’s like Christmas every day.”

And late spring, she said, heralds the beginning of Goodwill’s greatest giving season.

That’s when people do their spring cleaning. It’s when the winter cobwebs are brushed away, people downsize and the garage becomes a garage again.

This means there’s a lot of stuff that needs to go somewhere, and it’s likely that Goodwill will get its share of donations — along with St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and others both secular and faith-based.

“We get trucks, we get U-Hauls,” Eubanks said.

Intake workers at the 50 donation stations managed within the Tacoma-based Goodwill Olympics and Rainier Region (comprising 15 counties from the coast to the Klickitat, from the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the Oregon border) see upwards of 4.800 donors every day, or 400 per hour.

Eubanks — and the Internal Revenue Service — offer tips for people thinking of donating household goods, glassware, furniture, knick-knacks, clothing, shoes, small appliances, electronics, artwork, everything and anything that might have value when repurposed.


What not to bring:

Used mattresses, animals, auto parts, fire alarms, light bulbs, ammunition, large appliances, houseplants, hazardous materials.

Inside the main door of the intake center at the South Tacoma Goodwill you will find a good number of knives. Don’t bring knives. Or cans of aerosol paint. And there’s not much the agency can do with the cremated remains of house pets, although such donations are not unusual.

“It’s amazing, some of the things you’ll find,” Eubanks said.


Don’t worry, it will be used:

At Goodwill, an item will be inspected and put into any one of a handful of retail streams. The best items (fine art, expensive collectibles, rare books) will be put on sale online. The next tier (pristine designer-label clothing, for example) will be sent to the upscale Blue boutiques. The next level of donations is sent to Goodwill retail stores. Some items that aren’t likely to sell are bundled and sold to industries (as with ceramic plates that are pulverized and sent to cement manufacturers). Bulk fabrics (T-shirts and other clothing) are bundled and sold overseas.

The object at the end, said Goodwill spokesman George White, is to avoid paying to place items in landfills.

“We were doing recycling long before that’s what it was called,” said Eubanks.


Charitable tax deductions:

You may be eligible for a tax deduction tied to your donation, and the IRS has guidelines for establishing the value of a charitable gift.

The IRS requires donors to establish a fair market value for their items, and Goodwill representatives will not offer an appraisal.

If you’re offering a major donation (an original Van Gogh, a first edition Mark Twain novel), it’s best to get a professional appraisal. For smaller items, Goodwill has published a rough guide to valuations. If you’re donating a men’s two-piece suit, figure maybe $30. A woman’s robe could range from $2 to $20. A child’s coat could fetch a $15 deduction.

Radios could fetch $2 to $15, coffee tables from $10 to $12, and for board games, figure $1.

Search for detailed instructions on donations to any charity.

And don’t forget to check the pockets and secret compartments of the clothing and other items you’re about to donate.

Eubanks recalls checking a handbag that was donated in 2014. Inside, she found $76.