Trying to Stay Busy and Warm? These (Post-)Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day Projects Are Just What You’ve Been Looking For | 2.16.2021
Trying to Stay Busy and Warm? These (Post-)Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day Projects Are Just What You’ve Been Looking For
By Jess Galvan
Local Artist, Creator & Goodwill Décor Genius
Editor’s Note: We are positively thrilled to welcome Jessica Galvan as our guest blogger and influencer! We intended to post this before Valentine’s Day, but we blew it. However, with the severe cold and kiddos at home, you might be looking for a project to keep them busy. And you can make one in plenty of time for St. Patrick’s Day!
If you like people to look at you with pure confusion, tell the cashier at Goodwill that you’re buying one green plaid shirt, some books and one striped curtain for holiday decor. Then explain that, no, you didn’t mean to say a costume.
Hi, I’m Jessica Galvan. Everyone calls me Jess, and I’m used to the confused looks when people make small talk and ask what I’m buying random things for.
Like a lot of people, I grew up in a home without any “disposable income”— and with grandparents who lived through the Depression. That means a few things.
First, if you got something new, you saved it. You used it for its intended purpose and after that, if there was a way to use it for another purpose, you did it.
Second, one man’s trash is another’s man’s treasure. But let’s be real: Sometimes one man’s trash is just trash. I’m not going to reuse lightbulbs. (Although, I will straight-up wash and dry a freezer bag. What can I say; my grandma was right about that one.)
And, third, I don’t care if something is eight days old or 80 years old, with elbow grease, a few supplies and some ingenuity, you can make what you have into something you love. I’ve spent my whole life doing that. Now, I get to help other people do that every day.
OK! I will stop talking about myself now, a full intro is boring, and, as time goes by, I’ll probably overshare details, so I’m going to issue my apologies for that in advance.
How To Make a Festive Vignette
We’re going to start with a fun and totally customizable Valentine’s Day vignette using some supplies most of us have at home and those items from Goodwill that I talked about earlier. We’ll make a holiday garland and books to coordinate with our holiday for this Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.
Like I said, this is customizable, so before you go buy anything, look around your house! That cute patterned shirt the kids outgrew, the tablecloth you used once because it’s easier to just wipe the table than to wash the cloth and still have to wipe the table. ANYTHING that has the color scheme you want. Remember also that you can use that red glitter or buffalo check from Christmas for Valentine’s. The cute lime green floral picks from Christmas can be used for St. Pat’s or even Easter.
Here’s a list of the supplies I used:
- Twine or string
- Ribbon, lace, embellishments (buttons, stickers, etc.)
- Plaid shirt in specific color (49¢ at Goodwill)
- Striped curtain (99¢ at Goodwill)
- Hardcover and softcover books (99¢ at Goodwill)
- Craft paint
- White glue or Mod Podge
To make the garland:
- Cut string or twine to fit the intended spot where you’ll hang the garland. I usually decorate my mantle, so I use about 8 ft. In this case, my husband was watching TV, so I made do by making a table for photos.
- Cut fabric (shirts, curtains, etc.) and ribbons into strips and to desired length. The shorter the length, the puffier they’ll be.
Tip: You can use one color or pattern, or seven; it’s all about what you want your project to be. I typically start with four strips.
- Approximately every 6 to 8 inches, tie the strips into knots onto the twine. If you feel like the strips are too long, you can trim them.
- Add more strips if it seems too sparse, and snip some off if it’s too full.
That’s. It. It’s super easy and fast. I use 3M strips to hang mine — they don’t mess finishes or paint, and I’m not putting nails in whatever I decorate.
To make the books:
Forewarning: If you don’t like messy hands, you’re going to want to wear gloves or get a helper for this. I like to use whichever kid has annoyed me the most that day.
- Grab some of the same fabric you used for the garland. Measure the approximate size to book — just like the good old days when we used books for school and had to put book covers on them! So, allow about an inch beyond the edges of the cover on all sides.
- Apply white glue or Mod Podge to fabric with a paintbrush or roller, then roll it onto one side of the book.
- Using your hands, smooth the fabric on the side of the book you put glue on. Open the cover and apply glue to about 1 inch of the three sides, then fold and smooth any excess fabric. Close the book cover, roll glue onto the fabric and book and smooth the fabric on the spine of book, and fold the edge over and tuck it under to hide excess fabric. This can be trimmed later, if necessary, so don’t stress if it won’t tuck!
- Repeat on the back and the inside cover.
- Leave to dry, making sure the book is on plastic or something smooth and hard so it won’t stick to whatever it’s sitting on. I’ve found it’s easiest to put the book spine-up with only the cover edges down.
On the other books, I used some ribbon and lace from the garland, and some craft paint and felt hearts. Paint right over the letters, or paint the whole book! You can even add buttons, stickers, stamps or washi tape.
Now, the two parts are all done and it’s time to put them together! Hunt for things from around your house (or that Goodwill trip) and decorate the space to create your perfect vignette.
If you have a project you want to try, a piece of furniture that needs new life or want to recreate something you saw on Pinterest or TV, let me know! We’re just getting started here so, don’t be shy!
Reach out and connect with me!
Facebook: Jessica Galvan
Fans of our Goodwill stores in Omaha, Bellevue, Blair, Council Bluffs, Fremont, Gretna and Papillion will find some exciting changes starting on March 1. And, if the Goodwill Wearhouse is your favorite Goodwill location, you’ll also find even more reasons to shop there.
Changes at Regular Goodwill Omaha Retail Stores
Most of our customers know about our color-of-the-week (COTW) sale — we reduce the prices on two tag colors of clothing that we’re moving out of rotation and leaving our racks. Starting March 1, we’ll still have two colors of the week, but they’ll feature our Last Chance items and Fresh Finds. You’ll find fantastic deals on clothing and textiles with our Last Chance tag color — those items will be a whopping 50% off! Items tagged with the Last Chance color will leave our racks and shelves the following week, so you’ll want to grab those items while you can.
Want to make a beeline for the clothing and textiles we just added in the store? Look for items tagged with the Fresh Finds color. They’ll be items you haven’t seen on our racks or shelves yet. To find out what our Last Chance and Fresh Finds colors are each week, look for the COTW sign stand near the front of the store.
(Psssst … here’s something else to look forward to: We’ll add houseware items to the COTW sale later this year! Watch our social media pages and this blog to find out when that happens.)
Changes at the Goodwill
Wearhouse Outlet Store
We want to satisfy our shoppers looking for the ultimate bargain something to get excited about, too. On March 1, we’re changing the name of our Wearhouse location to the Goodwill Outlet. We want to give shoppers a better idea of what to expect at this location, and “Outlet” better describes what kind of specialty store this is. But that’s just changing the sign on the building.
What’s really exciting are the changes you’ll find inside the new Goodwill Outlet — like 21 more bins on the Goodwill Outlet floor! “More bins” means more great deals on more items that you’ll be able to pick up at a set low price per pound. Goodwill Outlet shoppers also will notice that we’re adding more clothing to our bins, and, for the first time, we’ll include shoes in our bins.
Employees at our Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center near 78th and Dodge in Omaha had an unusual encounter on Monday, Dec. 21: A gentleman entered the store and said he wanted to purchase $500 of clothing. Now, while it’s true that we don’t often see a single purchase of hundreds of dollars, the amount wasn’t even the most spectacular part of this story.
The man added that he wanted to anonymously donate the clothing to the Open Door Mission in Omaha. What’s more, he asked our 78th & Dodge retail team to select the items, explaining that they know better than he does what types of clothing people need and purchase most often. So, our team went to work — shopping!
Once they’d selected a variety of clothing in a range of men’s, women’s and children’s sizes, members of the retail team loaded up all the bags of clothing and brought them to the Open Door Mission.
The best part of this story? This generous donor’s gift benefited TWO nonprofit organizations: Proceeds from his (and all) purchases at Goodwill Omaha stores support our organization’s employment programs and services for people in our community with disabilities and other disadvantages, and his donation to the Open Door Mission provides much-needed clothing for unhoused people in our community. Now, that’s what we call holiday magic!
Now through Dec. 31, Goodwill Omaha shoppers can donate their change to help others in the community who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. That’s right — it’s our annual “Round It Up for United Way” campaign, which is raising awareness and money to support United Way of the Midlands (UWM) and the Fremont Area United Way in their efforts to help people in Omaha and surrounding communities.
The campaign kicked off on Nov. 1 and allows shoppers at Goodwill retail stores to choose to “round up” their purchase totals to the next dollar at the checkout. We’ll donate round-it-up raised at our stores in Fremont and Blair to the Fremont Area United Way, and we’re donating money raised at our other locations to United Way of the Midlands.
“This year has been tough for most people, but it’s been especially difficult for those who have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO of Goodwill Omaha. “So many people lost jobs, either permanently or temporarily, in March, when many businesses had to close due to COVID. Several months later, some people who were furloughed or expected their layoffs to be temporary learned their positions were eliminated because employers experienced financial and economic losses due to COVID.”
UWM reports that, since March, the Nebraska/Iowa 211 Helpline has experienced a 142% increase in call volumes over last year, despite the high volumes the Helpline saw during the floods in spring 2019. As you likely know, COVID-19 has created an entirely new set of challenges, which United Way organizations are trying to keep up with.
For example, UWM modified its community investment process to quickly move dollars to programs that meet the community’s most pressing needs and to better respond to the community’s rapidly evolving needs.
“Goodwill holds campaigns like this throughout the year to benefit other nonprofits in our communities. It’s a way we can give back to the communities and partners who show so much support for Goodwill and our employment programs,” Mathouser continued. “Our shoppers tend to be very generous, and our round-it-up campaigns can raise a surprising amount of money. We love doing it. To us, giving back is just part of what it means to be a good steward of the community.”
By Jessica Bertsch, Marketing Assistant, Goodwill Omaha
Need a fun idea for the holidays? A white elephant gift exchange is sure to please — it’s fun, festive, inexpensive and unique. These events are also referred to as a Yankee Swap or a Dirty Santa.
My personal favorite thing about white elephant gift exchanges is that they never have the same outcome. Our family always uses a couple themes to make it even more fun. Last year, we had three themes: Goodwill Finds, Something Shiny and International. You could just use one theme or try to include all three.
The basic rules are as follows:
- Each person brings one wrapped gift to add to the gift pool.
- Players draw numbers to determine the order they will choose gifts.
- Everyone sits so that they can see all of the gifts.
- The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it.
- The next person and all subsequent people can choose to either pick and unwrap a gift from the pool or steal an open gift from someone who has already chosen.
There is usually a rule that a gift can only be stolen a certain number of times. We usually do a limit of three times. Otherwise, this game could go on for a long time. The possibilities are endless and you can easily put your own twist on the game.
By Tara Sandle, Director of Contracts, Goodwill Omaha
This year marks not only the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which offers people, organizations and legislators an opportunity to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to recognize the impact of individuals with disabilities across the country.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Goodwill Omaha continues to educate the communities we serve on disability employment issues and our commitment to an inclusive work environment. To contribute to this monthlong national campaign, we’re highlighting our AbilityOne program and participants on our social media pages.
We Focus on Abilities
Goodwill Omaha has been providing job opportunities to individuals with disabilities since 1989. Currently, we have 110 individuals employed in the AbilityOne program, with 85 who have identified as having a disability.
AbilityOne is a federally mandated program that uses set-aside funds to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Per the program requirements, 75% of our AbilityOne labor hours need to be completed by these individuals. As a member nonprofit within the AbilityOne program, Goodwill Omaha works with SourceAmerica to provide these employment opportunities.
Under the AbilityOne program, employees are paid the federal wage determination rate. Oftentimes, these rates are higher than minimum wage. In addition, every AbilityOne employee receives health and welfare fringe benefits for every hour they work on the contract.
Goodwill Omaha is a proud supporter of the AbilityOne program and continues to contribute to the program by employing individuals with disabilities. We’re also committed to creating an inclusive work environment that includes people of all races, gender identity, culture and ability.
“Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a June 2020 U.S. Department of Labor news release. “Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”
Our Employees Are Essential
This year, SourceAmerica’s theme for NDEAM is “Always Essential.” From performing custodial services at federal buildings to providing postal services at Offutt Air Force Base, Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne employees have demonstrated their dedication and commitment during COVID-19. Their work is a reminder that people with disabilities are always essential.