And date night can be at home this year!

In September 2015, two Florida couples set out to create a unique date night experience, and the first (known) #GoodwillDateNight was born. Their story gained the attention of national media, and Goodwill organizations throughout the country started encouraging their shoppers and fans to try it. Couples started challenging other couples to do their own Goodwill date night. It didn’t take long before someone, somewhere, decided #GoodwillDateNight should be a contest for Valentine’s Day. This year, Goodwill Omaha is challenging their fans in Omaha and surrounding communities to take the Goodwill date night challenge, and those who do could win a valuable prize package.

“The Goodwill date night challenge was something I read about I started working at Goodwill, and it sounded like fun, so I wanted to try it here,” said Amy Goldyn, director of marketing and public relations at Goodwill Omaha. “We held the first contest last year, but we didn’t have much of a budget to promote it, so we didn’t get many entries. This year, we have the advertising budget, and we’re promoting it. Our influencer partner, Gina Melton from KAT 103.7 has even talked about it on the morning show. We really want to see people enter and get creative with it.”

The idea is this: You and your co-contestants visit a Goodwill Omaha store to shop for outfits for each other. The budget is $10 per outfit. You can go for glamour, with formal gowns and suits, or you might choose to look for pieces that would make the most hideous outfit you can find. Or, like the couples in Florida, you might incorporate a little of both. Then, you go on a date. In public. And be sure to take photos or video while you’re out.

“We’ve modified the contest this year for COVID-19, since we want everyone to stay safe,” Goldyn said. “If you’re staying in for Valentine’s Day this year, a ‘date night’ at home still qualifies for the contest. Typically, the contest is open to couples or pairs of friends, but this year, we opened the contest to families and small groups of friends as well, and the prize package accounts for that.”

Goodwill Omaha sweetened the prize package this year by inviting select local business sponsors to contribute to the package, which includes a gift certificate to Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery, a Wilma & Rose gift basket of hand-selected items, Coca-Cola merchandise and more.

To enter, contestants must post photos or video from their shopping trip and date night to Facebook or Instagram using #GoodwillDateNightOmaha. Goldyn said that most of the time, people taking a date night challenge snap photos wearing their Goodwill garb in front of a Goodwill store. With the pandemic and winter weather, she and her team worried people might not want to do that.

“Our graphics designer had the idea to make and give away selfie paddles, and she came up with a great design,” Goldyn said. “She talked to a manager at Lowe’s, and he gave us a few hundred paint stirrers to use for the handles. Contestants can find the selfie paddles at our regular retail stores in Omaha, Bellevue, Blair, Council Bluffs, Gretna, Fremont and Papillion. Most of the stores have them near the dressing rooms.”

Goodwill Omaha is accepting entries to the #GoodwillDateNightOmaha challenge through Feb. 14, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Goldyn said all eligible entries will be entered in the contest, and her team will use a randomizer to select the winner, which she expects to announce by Feb. 21.

For more information about the #GoodwillDateNightOmaha challenge, how to enter and contest rules, visit GoodwillOmaha.org/love.