Credit: Maureen McNamara | Mustang News

Goodwill stores and donation sites in San Luis Obispo county opened their doors May 23 — a somewhat last minute reopening when the county gave permission for certain retail stores to open earlier this week, granted they implement the advised safety measures. 

Goodwill will be accepting donations with the exception of any large pieces of furniture, in compliance with efforts to socially distance employees tasked with handling the drop offs, according to Goodwill’s Vice President of Retail Alan Martinson.

The numerous stores along the central coast are looking forward to welcoming their customers once again, Martinson said, and having the donation sites functioning again will allow the staff to properly process all the clothing and miscellaneous items people have given away.

Paso Robles Goodwill Manager Deborah Button said she’s received constant inquiries about the store’s reopening timeline from the regular thrifters she considers “like family,” and from those in the community who have sifted through their closets and acquired piles of clothes to giveaway during the quarantine. 

Many regular customers who upcycle and refurbish clothing for resale depend on Goodwill’s affordable clothing to make their living, according to Sally Gasser, Assistant Manager of the Paso Robles store.  

Goodwill employees, like millions of other Americans, said the abrupt loss of work and a normal routine was difficult to adjust to. 

“It was very scary not coming back to work,” Gasser said. “I have bills, a mortgage … Goodwill kept me on staff and it was a blessing.” 

Since Goodwill closed their doors in early March, the company was forced to furlough thousands of employees and halt their work experience programs, like Beyond Jobs, which aims to help single mothers find work and plan future career paths. Martinson said the company kept as many of their employees on payroll as was financially feasible, but for those they laid off, the company’s management helped them in the process of filing for unemployment. 

“We have employees all over the place, some might be living in campsites … some are homeless,” Martinson said the day before the stores opened up. “We kept a good amount of those folks on payroll, but they miss the interaction … they just really dig it, and really want to get back.”

Not all of the staff will be returning to their regular positions in an effort to allow the employees to socially distance, but the reopening gets a significant amount of employees back to work. 

For information on what the safety measures at the stores and specifics on what will be accepted at donation sites, see Goodwill Central Coast’s Facebook page.

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