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Tax Break: Hurry don't wait to donate
Folks clean out closets for last-minute tax receipts
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Jennifer Pruett, 23, helps break down boxes and sort through donated items at the Oakwood Goodwill. Pruett is part of a group of workers employed by the Goodwill career center to help them find other job opportunities. - photo by Erin O. Smith

About this time each year, Willette Bennett of Gainesville tries to clean out closets and bring used items to Goodwill of North Georgia in Oakwood.

“People get new things for Christmas ... and my husband has lost weight, so it’s time to get rid of that size,” Bennett said Tuesday as she dropped off bags of items at the center off Mundy Mill Road.

She certainly wasn’t alone in her efforts to lighten the load of personal items. Donors were swarmed by workers as soon as they pulled up to Goodwill’s donation doors.

“This is, by far, our busiest season,” Goodwill spokeswoman Elaine Armstrong said.

The nonprofit organization, which, through more than 100 locations in North Georgia, provides job training and employment services, serves more donors during the six days between Christmas and New Year’s Day than any other week of the year, she said.

Last year, some 90,000 donors dropped off used goods during those days.

Much of the rush can be traced to people organizing for the new year, emptying closets and cleaning out garages, but there’s also a financial incentive: charitable contributions as part of next year’s tax returns.

“There’s a lot of (donors) getting in their last-minute receipts for the tax year,” said Christine Portuese, manager of the Atlanta Mission Thrift Store at 328 Oak St., Gainesville.

“But we’re getting a lot of people not even asking for receipts. They’re just doing it because they know everything that we do.”

The Christian-based organization provides not only used items at affordable prices but other services, including emergency shelter and job attainment.

A fixture at Christmas with its omnipresent bell ringers, The Salvation Army also is bustling at this time of year with last-minute donations. The organization has donation centers and boxes and, in some locations, will come to your house to pick up goods.

The year-end endeavors “benefit both the donor and The Salvation Army, as well as those in need that shop at our family stores,” said Maj. Rob Vincent, Georgia division secretary.

In this last week, “we ramp up our donation centers to receive those year-end household items,” he said.

Gateway Domestic Violence Center in Gainesville gets donations every day from five to 15 people, with that number at the higher end this time of the year,

Executive Director Jessica Butler said.

“Many people use time off around the holidays to declutter their homes,” she said. “Some people are making room for new Christmas gifts (they’ve gotten), while others are getting a head start on resolutions for next year to be more organized.”

Jennifer Gainey of Flowery Branch sees nothing but benefits in donating items.

“I have two growing boys and they grow out (of clothes) faster than you can imagine,” she said as bags were being pulled from her car. “When we buy new, we can get rid of the old, and this is a great place to take (used items).”

Plus, selling items, such as through a yard sale, can be more trouble than it’s worth, Gainey said.

“Here, you drop it off and they take care of it, and you hope this stuff goes to a good home,” she said.