#ThriftyThursday- Jurassic Era

T-Rex as Benson Park Plaza for only $1.99!

T-Rex as Benson Park Plaza for only $1.99!

The new Christ Pratt movie, Jurassic World, is taking over the box offices because who doesn’t love dinosaurs and prehistoric theme parks? Well I am guilty of loving both of those and as luck would have it, while browsing the Benson Park Plaza store; I came across something that is almost as thrilling as the movie itself: a one-foot-tall replica Tyrannosaurus Rex! What better way to relive Jurassic World moments than with one of your very own dinosaurs. The best part about Mr. T-Rex is that he is only $1.99! You never know what interesting find you might come across at Goodwill!

Young entrepreneurs design products with help from community businesses – Daily Nonpareil

Young entrepreneurs design products with help from community businesses – Daily Nonpareil

By: Scott Stewart

When 11-year-olds Gracie Schoening and Katelyn Arnold went shopping Tuesday morning at Goodwill, they were trying to find the perfect items to create a new consumer product.The girls were one of five teams creating their own business as part of the Innovation Camp held this week by TS Institute, the nonprofit arm of Treynor State Bank, which held sessions at Wilson Middle School and at several community sites across Council Bluffs.

Photo by: Joe Shearer. From left, incoming Kirn Middle School sixth-graders Madison Bahr, Alanna Huenniger and Tayden Smith work to innovate old items into repurposed products while shopping at Goodwill on Tuesday. The activity was part of the TS Institute's three-day "Innovation Camp," where 30 incoming Wilson and Kirn Middle School sixth-graders visited different businesses and learned about entrepreneurship.

Photo by: Joe Shearer. From left, incoming Kirn Middle School sixth-graders Madison Bahr, Alanna Huenniger and Tayden Smith work to innovate old items into repurposed products while shopping at Goodwill on Tuesday. The activity was part of the TS Institute’s three-day “Innovation Camp,” where 30 incoming Wilson and Kirn Middle School sixth-graders visited different businesses and learned about entrepreneurship.

Gracie and Katelyn’s product, a laundry hamper with built-in basketball hoop, was designed initially to use a purse for the goal, but the team adapted their design to instead use a Goodwill bag. Each team was given up to $30 to buy raw materials, although collectively the frugal students only spent $50.21.

“We’re making a laundry basket,” Gracie said. “When kids are putting their laundry away, they can shoot a hoop to make them want to do it more.”

Kyle Osborne, the camp organizer with TS Institute, said the camp brought students from the initial idea for a business through developing a product and business plan, an abbreviated middle-school program similar to the University of Iowa’s professional entrepreneurial Venture School program.

“These students are going to be creating their own businesses,” Osborne said. “The students are putting together all the pieces of not just a concept but putting together a product.”

Sam Comfort, Goodwill’s work experience trainer, discussed the nonprofit’s mission Tuesday morning, and he told the students about how the stores are selling products now created by repurposing old donations such as T-shirts and stuffed animals.

“We teach high school students the skills necessary to be successful for employment,” he said. “Part of Goodwill’s mission is to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

On Wednesday, students visited Iowa Western Community College to learn about crafting the perfect commercial spot with The River and CBTV17. They also visited Thunderbowl to learn about how to market a product, and Buddy Ray Jones, the operations manager of Joe’s Karting, visited the students Wednesday afternoon to discuss what it takes to run a business.

Jones said he brought racing experience to the business, which offers a unique opportunity in the metro area. In six years, the business has a customer base of more than 100,000. In part, that success was based on adapting offerings based on what racers at Joe’s Karting are interested in doing.

“You need to think about what does your customer base want,” he said. “You always want to look for a need. There always has to be a need that your product has to have.”

In addition to Goodwill, students visited a Scooter’s in Omaha as well as listened to a presentation on branding and creating a slogan from Krispy Kreme. Over the course of the camp, the students work on their creativity, look for business opportunities, understand basic business practices, received direct mentoring and learned how to make a product and an accompanying business plan.

“You have to stay laser-focused,” Osborne told one of the groups, as students were weaving through Goodwill among the store’s regular shoppers. “What problem are you going to solve?”

The camp wraps up today with a visit from TS Bank and Edward Jones in the morning, as the students prepare to pitch their finished products to investors in a miniature “Shark Tank” scenario at Wilson.

For incoming Kirn Middle School student Alanna Huenniger and her team, that pitch will include a commercial shot in the school’s lobby on Wednesday afternoon.

Their product, called Jungle Adventure, used a stool, on sale for half-off at Goodwill, with a vase and smaller cups for additional flowers or tea candles.

“It is suppose to be a flower stool,” Alanna said. “You can put flowers in the cup.”

The group’s sketch portrayed a mother waking up to being given flowers on Mother’s Day but lamenting where she would put them. Her daughters go back to the drawing board to make their surprise even better while they prepare supper: the flower stool.

“Jungle Adventure is a new product – try it today,” the team members said at the end of their pitch as part of a sing-song jingle. “Jungle Adventure is the best product for you. Call 1-800-ZEBRA.”

#ThriftyThursday – Goodwill has S’more neat stuff than you might expect

S'more maker for only $3.99 at Benson Park

S’more maker for only $3.99 at Benson Park

Summer break is finally here! I remember sitting in my desk on the last day of school counting down the minutes until I was finally free. While browsing through Goodwill at Benson Park Plaza, I came across the niftiest products that would be perfect for those warm summer nights or even those rainy days. This indoor/outdoor S’mores maker is priced at $3.99, what a steal! It was always a competition among my friends to cook the perfect golden marshmallow and I couldn’t have ever imagined making these delicious treats without a campfire, but at Goodwill you never know what is possible.

Congressman Brad Ashford Becomes AbilityOne Champion

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Today, we recognize and congratulate Congressman Brad Ashford on becoming the first AbilityOne Champion in Nebraska’s current Congressional Delegation.

An AbilityOne Champion is a congressperson that has pledged to support the important job opportunities created by  AbilityOne contracts.  These contracts create employment for thousands of people with disabilities nationwide, while providing important services to the federal government.

There are four steps one must take in order to become a Champion. They are:

  • Visit an AbilityOne site
  • Meet with an AbilityOne program participant in your Washington D.C. or local office
  • Use AbilityOne products in your offices
  • Advocate for AbilityOne on the floor of the House or Senate, on Social Media, or through a letter

Goodwill Omaha operates AbilityOne programs at five different sites throughout the state, from Offutt Air Force Base to the VA Hospital in Grand Island.  This spring, Congressman Ashford visited our AbilityOne site at the Zorinsky Federal building in Omaha.  During his time there, he met a number of Goodwill employees who have had their lives changed through their work with AbilityOne.

Thanks again to Congressman Ashford for showing support of AbilityOne and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

You can learn more about the AbilityOne program here: http://www.abilityone.org/.