Girl Scout’s ‘Merry Thriftmas’ Project Finds a Home at Goodwill for Second Year

The festive window displays hearken back to grand department-store windows of the past, but there’s more to this story.

Goodwill Omaha is honored to sponsor Merry Thriftmas, a community project designed to give back to those in need, for the second year. The project is the concept of Madison Eisert, a Papillion La Vista South high school sophomore working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award, and is on display through Dec. 18 at the South Papillion Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center near 90th Street and Highway 310.

“For years, our family has loved shopping at Goodwill throughout the seasons and for every occasion,” Eisert said. “Everything from school supplies, wedding presents, homecoming dresses, prom gowns and especially holiday gifts.

<img src="IMG_0675.png" alt="Madison Eisert sits in front of a fireplace constructed of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies">

Madison Eisert shows off one of her Merry Thriftmas window displays at Goodwill Omaha’s store in South Papillion. The exhibit will be up through Dec. 18.

“The holiday season should be a time filled with magic and celebrating,” she continued. “Sadly, though, it can bring unhappiness, stress and financial burdens — especially this year. By forming and leading a team of volunteers I affectionately refer to as ‘Goodwill Elves,’ we planned to shop and find treasures in nearly every Goodwill aisle to put in the window displays. These items will then be given to families in need to help fulfill their wish lists and bring them joy.”

For a time, it looked like Merry Thriftmas was destined to become another of this year’s many cancellations due to the novel coronavirus.

“Since we reopened after closing for COVID-19, we’ve been focused on keeping our customers, donors, participants and employees safe and minimizing everyone’s risk of exposure,” said Janelle Ellis, director of retail operations at Goodwill Omaha. “Madison did an incredible job on the windows last year, and we wanted to host the project again, but we also had to assess potential risks. So, we’d eventually decided not to do it this year.”

Eisert is tenacious, though, and she wanted to find a way to continue the project. She went back to the Goodwill Omaha team with a revised project plan: Eisert proposed decorating two windows instead of four — she’d need fewer Elves to help decorate, and they could dress the windows while Goodwill’s retail team finished their closing duties.

“Madison has grit, and we certainly appreciate that,” Ellis said. “I’m glad she found a way to make the project work. We’d like people to start thinking of stopping at a Goodwill Omaha store when they’re shopping for the holidays — you’d be surprised at how many brand-new items we receive in our donations. Anything from luxury sheet sets and pajama sets to gadgets, artwork and home décor — all donated new with the tags or new in the box. No one would even know it came from Goodwill.”

In fact, Accenture’s 2019 annual holiday shopping survey revealed that 48% of Americans said they would give a thrifted item as a gift, and a whopping 56% said they would welcome thrifted gifts for themselves. This year, with so many people experiencing hardship and loss due to the pandemic, thrift-store and secondhand shopping are on the rise and likely to include holiday gift shopping.

<img src="Merry Thriftmas Fireplace.png" alt="Fireplace mantle with Merry Thriftmas spelled out in decorative, festive letters">“Madison’s plan worked out really well, and the windows are just beautiful again this year,” Ellis said. “I hope people will stop by to see the Merry Thriftmas windows at our South Papillion store and maybe consider stopping in there or at one of our other stores. It doesn’t cost anything to browse, and they might be surprised at the number of great deals they find.”

Eisert also applied for a volunteer service grant, which Booz Allen Hamilton awarded to her to help with the cost of the items and decorations in the windows.

“I’m so thankful to Booz Allen Hamilton for their generous donation,” Eisert said. “Because of their support, the holiday season will be a lot brighter and more joyful for families in need. I would encourage everyone in our community to take the time to celebrate the true meaning of the season by giving of themselves and showing compassion for others.”

And the future of Merry Thriftmas once Eisert earns her Girl Scout Gold Award?

“Goodwill would still like to explore expanding the Merry Thriftmas project in the future,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO of Goodwill Omaha. “We’d like to get businesses in the community involved and donate all the items in the windows to local families in need. We have some logistics to work out, but we’d really like to make the project a holiday tradition for Goodwill Omaha and everyone in the community.”

Residents in Papillion and surrounding communities can see Eisert’s holiday window creation through Dec. 18 at the Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center at 704 W. Gold Coast Drive in Papillion. For more information, photos and video, click here.

Be a Community Hero. Shop Goodwill®.

Who’s ready for the new Spider-Man movie? We are! On July 7, Sony Pictures promises thrill, action, and heroism in the form of their new blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a little late to the web-slinging wonders of New York City’s most awesome arachnid, here are a few things you can do to get swept up in the excitement!

Comic books

Image via

First, get acquainted with the magical world of comics. Here’s a quick run-down of comic books through the ages crafted Seattle Goodwill. I love how they’ve broken it up by era and they’ve even listed the most valuable comics of each age! Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for these whenever you head to the thrift store. You could sell your finds to a collector for a huge profit or score a piece of history to start your own collection on a bang! It was in the pages of Marvel Comics’ August 1962 issue of Amazing Fantasy #15 that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man first came alive, so definitely snag that one if you ever see it.

DIY lamp. Before and after. Supplies from Goodwill.

Image via

At home, you can add a little excitement with an easy comic lamp revamp like this one  A Girl and a Glue Gun. Grab drab lighting from Goodwill then search the fabric section for Spider-man cloth. Put the two together with a splash of sunny paint and—POW! A statement lamp ready to brighten a kids’ room or comic book nook. Easy projects like this take only a matter of minutes to complete, but are such a perfect way to take your Spider-man fandom to the next level.

Kids doing impression of Peter Parker in disguise. Goodwill NJ

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Meanwhile, over at Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia spidey-senses are tingling. A couple of cute kiddos posed for this picture shared on Pinterest doing their best impression of Peter Parker in disguise. If you’re in the mood to craft your own costume, swing into action by shopping for your supplies at local Goodwill organizations. Why? Because when you support their mission to help people who are facing challenges to finding employment overcome their hardships and achieve independence through the power of work, that kind of makes you a superhero, too. And, as any true Spider-Man fan knows, with great power comes great responsibility so this is one small thing you can do to help your community.

Blog shared from Goodwill Industries International

The Perfect Birthday Party Using Supplies From Goodwill

Every year for my daughter’s birthday, I try to pull off a Pinterest party.  You know what I’m talking about – the perfect birthday party that has fancy food and crafty decorations galore.  More often than not that awesome idea I found on Pinterest ended up flopping or I run out of time.  But this year… this year was different!

This year I had found a bunch of ideas for an ice cream-themed party that I really liked, and also thought could be fairly easy.  With the help of Goodwill, I was able to pull together a super cute ice cream social for my daughter!

I found great little ice cream dishes at Goodwill that I used to put the toppings in.  The dishes ranged between 59 cents and 99 cents.  I thought they added that perfect touch for the party!

Another purchase from Goodwill was old picture frames that I spray painted gold.  I had a number of FREE prints that I found on Pinterest – everyone loves free right!  The prints went in the painted frames and were used as decoration around the party.

This year, I am happy to say that our party was a success and thanks to Goodwill I was able to find deals that enhanced our ice cream theme!



Weekend Messy Mayhem Challenge

Need to clean your house and don’t have a lot of time?

Take our weekend challenge!

I was talking to my grandma on the way to the office today. She told me she’s planning on cleaning up her apartment to get rid of the clutter. My grandma is a very busy lady who is high in demand, so she really only has time to clean on the dreamstimelarge_35951162weekends. If you are a busy person but need to de-clutter your house, take the Goodwill Weekend Messy Mayhem Challenge! Because you only have two days and three nights, commit to cleaning out a few parts of your place each day. When Sunday night rolls around, you’ll have a clean home and a truckload of items to donate to Goodwill.

Friday Night

Main Floor Madness: Kitchen & Living Room

Your main floor is the area where all of your guests go when they come over. After dinner, begin going through your kitchen cabinets and put all the things you haven’t used in the past two months into a box. Get rid of duplicates and clean up your counter space. Get rid of any old silverware or table settings that haven’t been used since Christmas of 1985.

donate-middle-age-group-dreamstime_xxl_31667687When you finish in the kitchen, move onto your living room. Start by the television and get rid of any VHS tapes you still have laying around and any CDs that you no longer listen to – don’t forget about all of the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs you no longer watch. Once you finish your entertainment area, head over to the bookshelf and take a look to see which books have collected the most dust. If your old kids’ books and cheesy romance novels haven’t been touched since 1995, it’s safe to put them in the Goodwill donation box to make room for some new reads.



Hidden Chaos: Crammed closets, Alarming Attic, and Gloomy Garage

If you haven’t worn it in the past year, you probably don’t need it and won’t miss it when it’s gone. Clean out your closets. Shoes, hats, blouses, pants, skirts; you name it, Goodwill would love to take it off of your hands! Once your closets have less clutter, make a pact to follow dreamstimemaximum_5080693The Goodwill Closet Golden Rule: one in, one out. Every time you buy something new, get rid of something you already own.

After your closets are decluttered and looking spiffy, work your way to the attic and garage. Find old holiday décor that hasn’t been seen since you were a child? Donate it. Piles of things you forget you owed and haven’t used in years, donate them!


Sunday Fun Day: Office and bedrooms

We saved the best and easiest rooms for last. When you look around your bedroom, do you see trinkets and other odd objects you haven’t touched or used in years?  I know I do! Start by clearing out all your old toys that another child could enjoy. Get rid of any jewelry or trinkets that no longer serve any use to you. Last, but not least, work your way to the office. No one wants to work in a messy space. This weekend cleanup is the perfect time to San_Antonio_17846make sure your office is clean, starting the month organized. You have probably updated your computer, laptop, or tablet, so why hang on to the two old computers in the closet? Why keep old office supplies when you are always buying the newest edition and throwing the old ones into a box? Update your file cabinet; give up your old outdated computer equipment (working and non-working), and donate it all to Goodwill. We’ll wipe your equipment clean and recycle it in a safe way.


Well folks, you made it through the Weekend Messy Mayhem Challenge! Hooray! That wasn’t too bad, was it? Look at how clean your house is. Doesn’t it feel great? You should also feel great by knowing that all of your no longer needed items are going to be reused or recycled at your local Goodwill, where they will empower Eastern Nebraskans and Western Iowans and transform their lives. It’s now time to say goodbye to your donations and bring them over to Goodwill; we’ll take care of the rest.


#ThriftyThursday – Rockin’ out for little dough


While shopping at Goodwill on 72nd and Ames Avenue, I remembered that you never know what you are going to find.  I popped into Goodwill just to look around.  In all honesty, I was primarily looking for clothes for my daughter.  But as I walked down the furniture aisle, I found an old kid-sized rocking chair.  It was only $5.99! I knew that my two year old daughter would just love it, but it was in rough shape though.

I took it home and turned it over to my husband.  He sanded it down and then we put a coat of stain on it – pretty simplistic as far as DIY projects go.  The end result was better than expected.   It’s a beautiful deep maple color that fits not only my daughter perfectly, but also my living room décor.    In fact, my daughter loves it so much that we had her picture taken it the chair.  We plan to have our six dollar find around for a very long time!

finished chair

Guest blog: Repurposing an old dresser into a changing table

Being a decorator at heart, one of the very first things my husband and I did when we found out we were pregnant with our first child was decide what we wanted the nursery to look like. At first I had grandiose ideas – I had visions of white furniture with adorable pink accessories everywhere. My husband hated the idea of white furniture – he wanted dark wood for the room. We went back and forth for quite a while but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to buy furniture that we could you use for all our children. Dark wood it was!

Living on a tight budget, we knew we need to be conscious of our spending when decorating the baby room. We decided to buy a brand new crib and chair for the room but wanted to do something different for the changing table. My husband and I both love to get our hands dirty and repurpose old “junk” so we thought it would be really great to take an old dresser and turn it into a changing table. I immediately went on the hunt at Goodwill for the perfect dresser. I found this beauty at the 72nd and Ames location. The minute I saw it, I knew it would be perfect. I especially loved the old knobs and details of the legs.

This was the first time my husband and I had refinished a piece of furniture in this way, so we had a couple questions before we started. The employees at our local hardware store were very helpful. We started by taking all the knobs off and sanding down the entire dresser, including the drawers and legs. We then added a rim of wood to the sides and back with some help from my brother-in-law. We debated about adding the rim but like the fact that it’s an added safety precaution when changing diapers. My husband then used a gel stain that went on very easily and gave a great color to the wood. Lastly my husband put a couple coats of polyurethane on the piece.

We were so pleased with the finished product and how it looks in our daughter’s room, and our daughter loves it too! We can’t believe we bought the dresser for $40 and put about $30 into the restoration. A great piece of furniture that will be with our family for many years to come – and we can say we refinished ourselves!

See? Proof that it's great -- she loves it!

Friday link roundup – July 12

Here’s a handful of links that didn’t make it into posts of their own.

  • I feel like we’re running out of original things for people to include in their “Here are some easy ways to go green!” lists that aren’t hit-you-over-the-head obvious, like “Reuse your grocery bags!” or “Turn off the lights when you leave a room!”, but has a List of five ways to go green that include one I haven’t heard or thought of before, at least not in the “going green” context:

    2.Overnight shipping may get your package there in a jiffy, but it also uses a tremendous amount of fuel (not to mention money) to make it happen. If it doesn’t absolutely, positively have to be there overnight, opt for ground shipping, which uses more fuel-efficient trucks to move packages. One insider tip? If you ground ship between major cities that are close to each other, the chances are it will still arrive the next day at the much cheaper ground shipping price. Shipping packages between Philadelphia and New York City or Los Angeles and San Francisco almost always arrive the next day this way.

    You can check out the other four at his site.

  • Spoiler alert: Crafting a Green World’s How to Update a Vintage Cookie Jar tutorial is essentially “find an old cookie jar and spray-paint it white,” but in case seeing this tutorial inspires you to look at some old junk in a new way, I thought I’d take the chance and include it.
  • Artist Chad Wright came up with a poignant way to depict the rising oceans and their implications on modern society. TreeHugger has the details.

Have a great weekend!