Have Stuff to Donate? Don’t Just Dump It, Goodwill Says

Items left at Goodwill sites during the pandemic may have to be trashed

Goodwill is asking Santa Cruzans to hang on to any donations until the nonprofit can reopen.

With Santa Cruzans sheltering in place for more than two months now, some people may have achieved a whole new level of spring cleaning. 

But whatever level of tidying they’ve mastered, anyone who’s found items they don’t want anymore should be ready to hold on to them until donation centers can reopen. That should happen on Saturday, May 30, for most of the Santa Cruz County locations. 

Anyone wishing to receive updates about the reopening plans for Goodwill locations in Santa Cruz County can sign up for email notifications at or follow their Facebook page at

In the meantime, items dumped at Goodwill and other donation centers while they’re closed could end up in the landfill, adding to the expenses for nonprofits that otherwise use the donated goods to support community programs and people in need.   

So far, the dumping problem hasn’t been as bad at Goodwill’s Central Coast locations as it has been at some of the nonprofit’s more than 150 other locations around the country, says Alan Martinson, vice president of retail for Goodwill Central Coast. Any dumping still causes a “domino effect” though, he says.  

When items are left outside of closed Goodwill stores and donation centers, they have to be considered damaged and sent to the landfill. 

That goes against Goodwill’s commitment to protecting the environment, Martinson says. The Goodwill Central Coast team—covering Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties—has a recycling center in Salinas with hydraulic tippers and 21 docks for sorting materials such as metal and plastic. They have buyers for everything from cords to single shoes and certain kinds of plastic. 

“We sell everything, and sometimes we give it away,” Martinson says. “We just don’t want to put it in the landfill.”

“What we’ve been telling folks is to kind of create a little area in your apartment or your garage or whatever that’s for Goodwill if you’ve got stuff for us,” he adds. “We still want it and are still grateful for it, because that’s what gives us money for the programs.” 

Goodwill Central Coast supports more than 9,000 job seekers every year through its programs and job centers. 

They’ve been given clearance in San Luis Obispo County to begin reopening their stores by county health officials there. As Goodwill receives the go-ahead to reopen more locations, customers and those making donations will see changes such as regular disinfecting of surfaces, Martinson says.  

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