- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

The good folks at Goodwill

While the comments made by the “Goodwill official” in your article “Clothing donations bypass the needy” (World, Thursday) are technically correct, there are several very important facts that were not in the article that I thought you and your readers should know.

First, the article implies that Goodwill’s mission is to give clothes to the needy. Actually, Goodwill’s mission is to provide job training and placement services to the disadvantaged and disabled.

We do this by selling donated goods at our retail stores. We promote this regularly through the use of radio, TV and print advertising. It is only the merchandise that we cannot sell to the public that is then sold to salvage buyers. The money that we make off of these salvage sales further funds our job training and placement programs.

Locally, we generate more than $500,000 a year in salvage sales which, is 2.5 percent of our annual revenue. This money benefits the people right here in our own community through the funding of our programs.

Goodwill Industries channels 84 percent of its revenues into employment and support programs. Last year, 616,830 people in North America benefited from Goodwill’s career services.

Founded in Boston in 1902 by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, Goodwill Industries first put people to work by hiring them to repair and sell donated goods, giving people considered unemployable “not charity, but a chance.” The name “Goodwill Industries” was adopted after a Brooklyn, N.Y., workshop coined the phrase.

Our founder described Goodwill Industries as an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise … a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

Today, Goodwill Industries trains people for careers in fields such as financial services, computer programming, and health care. Goodwill also provides basic job skills training such as resume writing, and dressing and preparing for job interviews. Many of these people are working for the first time in their lives.

In addition to selling donated items in its retail stores, Goodwill also builds revenues, and creates jobs, by contracting with businesses and the federal government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including janitorial work, packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document shredding.

Ironically enough, Goodwill of Greater Washington has even provided custodial services for The Washington Times.

Clothes that do not sell in Goodwill retail stores are bundled, then sold to textile dealers, who often export them abroad. Goodwill’s obligation to its donors is to maximize their donations. Our equation is simple: The more money we earn through donated goods, the more people we can help find jobs, earn a paycheck, support their families, and become taxpaying members of their communities.

In 2003, as a gesture of goodwill to our community, Goodwill of Greater Washington gave nearly $100,000 in Good Samaritan vouchers to other nonprofit agencies that requested them, so that the people they serve can obtain clothing, shoes and household items at Goodwill stores at no cost. So far this year, 15 families who lost their homes after fires used Goodwill Good Samaritan vouchers to buy the things they needed to begin rebuilding their lives.

I hope this letter clarifies any misunderstanding you may have regarding Goodwill’s mission and the purpose behind our stores and the resale of donated merchandise.


Senior vice president

Marketing and communications

Goodwill of Greater Washington


Keeping food safe

Dr. Henry Miller is misinformed about food irradiation (“What is safe, what isn’t?,” Commentary, Friday).

Contrary to Dr. Miller’s claims, irradiation doesn’t just kill bacteria, it disrupts the chemical composition of food, creating unique byproducts. Recent studies show that some of these byproducts may promote cancer development and cause genetic damage to human cells.

Dr. Miller claims incorrectly that irradiated foods are cheaper. In fact, irradiated beef typically runs between 29 cents and 80 cents more per pound. Cost is just one reason schools across the country opted not to purchase irradiated ground beef for the National School Lunch Program.

Weak grocery store sales are proof that consumers aren’t buying this new “safety” technology. When we recently called 15 major national supermarket chains that previously sold irradiated beef, all of them had stopped carrying the product, including Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food Warehouse in the Washington area.

Perhaps Dr. Miller’s history with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency charged with approving food irradiation, has clouded his objectivity.

Far from the overwhelming scientific consensus he describes, there are still unanswered questions about irradiation. He also neglected to mention that the FDA’s approval for irradiated food was based on a flawed process and a very small number of studies, and numerous studies that found negative health effects were overlooked.

Continuing to push a technology that the general public refuses to embrace is a waste. The government instead should work on preventing the bacterial contamination of food in the first place instead of focusing attention on expensive and unnecessary technologies to kill it at the end of the line. Consumers deserve no less.


Director, Food Program

Public Citizen


PETA doesn’t endorse candidates

Chris Cox was completely incorrect when he stated that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) supported Sen. John Kerry (Letters, Oct. 31). PETA has never rated, endorsed or opposed Mr. Kerry, President Bush, or any other candidate. As a nonprofit entity, PETA is prohibited from participating in any political campaigns or from endorsing a particular candidate or party.

Not only do we respect our nonprofit status by abiding by these rules, but, over the course of many years, we have found that people from all walks of life are concerned about cruelty to animals.

Furthermore, PETA opposes sport hunting, regardless of the political affiliation of the hunter. The majority of Americans choose not to hunt. Ninety-four percent of us oppose the slaughter of animals in the forests and public lands of this country, so if any candidate was pandering, it was definitely to a minority.


General counsel and

director of corporate affairs

PETA Foundation


Does TM belong in schools?

Regarding the story on Transcendental Meditation (TM) in public schools (“Transcendental Meditation a religion issue?” Religion, Saturday), it should be noted that in the 1970s the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Malnak v. Yogi that TM is substantially religious, specifically Hindu, and therefore may not constitutionally be taught or promoted in public schools. I was one of the first researchers to call attention to TM’s inescapably religious nature.

At least one public school in the District, Fletcher-Johnson, is using TM. This practice should be halted immediately, both for constitutional reasons and because it is probably costing the District money that is needed elsewhere.

Many therapists and counselors and their books (such as Dr. Herbert Benson’s “The Relaxation Response”) recognize the benefits of meditation for reducing stress and high blood pressure, but anyone can learn how to meditate in several different ways without resorting to the mumbo-jumbo of TM.



Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

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