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Astoria’s Goodwill headquarters has faced declines in donations of between 12 percent and 25 percent during the past few months amid the current economic downturn, but sales of clothing and household goods at the nonprofit giant’s stores in the city are on the rise, a Goodwill spokesman said.
Alfred Vanderbilt, a Goodwill spokesman, said donations to the Astoria center had dropped by more than 10 percent in the past seven or eight months, while Mary Cochran, the nonprofit’s senior vice president of operations for the borough site, said donations had plummeted by as much as 25 percent just before the December holiday season.
Cochran said the weak state and national economies have limited both donations to Goodwill as well as sales at its city stores.
“We tend to get a ton of donations around this time of year, but not as much this year,” Cochran said. “We are usually inundated with material, but it’s slowing down. Our sales have picked up, though. More people are shopping at Goodwill.”
Goodwill Industries, which operates as a network of 184 nonprofit organizations in 16 nations, has its headquarters for the five boroughs, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey and Albany at 421 27th Ave. in Astoria, where more than 200 workers sort clothing donations and prepare them for sale at Goodwill’s various stores in the city.
Goodwill also operates stores at 32−36 Steinway St. in Astoria and 42−15 Crescent St. in Long Island City.
Vanderbilt said the Astoria center accepts a variety of items, including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing; toys; household items; strollers; radios; computers; and occasionally some furniture.
The Astoria center features an assembly line in which clothing items are inspected by workers, placed on a conveyor belt and then prepared for shipment to Goodwill’s stores. Cochran said the western Queens site will be revamped next year.
She said the center, which processes an estimated 100 tons of clothing from sites all across the state and New Jersey per day, has a short supply of men’s and children’s clothing this year.
“We don’t have enough men’s and children’s clothing this year because, if you have three kids, you can pare down and wear them out and men never buy new clothing.”
Cochran said the Astoria center sends out an estimated 100 to 150 garments to stores per day. She said there are 36 stores in the five boroughs, Long Island, upstate New York and northern New Jersey.
Vanderbilt said many people who had never shopped at Goodwill before were doing so this year as the economy continued to struggle.
“People are not going as much to Target or Macy’s because they need bargains,” he said. “But people are coming into our store for affordable clothing and there is less to choose from. We’re deeply in debt of people’s generosity.”
Cochran said she believed the number of donations would rebound in coming months.
“New Yorkers are a unique brand of people,” she said. “You tell them you need help and they help. I’m optimistic people will open up their hearts.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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