You can't tie a bow around it or stick it under a Christmas tree, but some people have learned that employment is one of the most meaningful gifts a person can receive during the holidays.
Goodwill Industries of the Central Savannah River Area, an organization that assists people with finding employment, is urging the community to make more donations during the holiday season.
According to statistics from the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for the area was 6.3 percent in October and an estimated 16,000 people were out of work.
"Our mission is to build lives, families and communities one job at a time," said Lindsey Evans, a communications specialist for Goodwill Industries of the CSRA. "Donating to Goodwill is the best way for you to help people right here in our community who want to work, go to work and support their families.
"It's important that people understand that the money received from the retail store provides support for the job center."
Goodwill accepts donations ranging from household items to clothing in good condition and automobiles.
"We take used cars and sell them to the public - 85 cents of every dollar goes to job training and career development," Ms. Evans said. "The remaining 15 cents goes into operating cost."
Cheryl Branch, 32, recently benefited from Goodwill's program. She works for Goodwill as a career development specialist for the hearing impaired.
She helps clients find employment and addresses problems they might encounter on the job. Ms. Branch was recognized as the 2005 Achiever of the Year for Goodwill Industries of the CSRA. She said her passion for her job comes from being able to identify with the frustrations of the people she's helping. She, too, is hearing impaired.
"I take my personal experience into it," Ms. Branch said. "I know what it's like to be discriminated against because you have a disability. If you can't read well or understand (what's being said quickly) we shouldn't be cast out.
"If I can do it (they) can do it, too."
Goodwill works closely with organizations such as AARP and Walton Options.
"We have several different programs - anyone who is anyone can come in and use our resources," Ms. Evans said. "We just give people the tools necessary to find jobs and become self-sufficient - Internet, fax machines, telephone numbers through a message center so they'll have numbers for people to leave messages for them."
Ms. Evans said people can enroll in the programs and receive different kinds of job training for employment in medical billing and specialized retail. If needed, Goodwill also has a program that will allow people to get clothing for free with vouchers.
"We believe in giving people a hand up not a hand out," Ms. Evans said. "We're not a relief organization. We want to help people who want to help themselves.
"It's kind of like that old proverb that says if you give a man a fish he'll eat for the day. Teach that man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."
Reach Korey London at (706) 828-3904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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