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‘Win-Win’: Clubs Embrace New Donation Drives


Paula Cowden offered a brief phrase to sum up the recent Goodwill donation drive she participated in.

“It was a win-win,” she said.

The treasurer of the Hendersonville High School Soccer Foundation and mom of a soccer player ought to know. The group has done more than its share of fundraising over the years, paying for the lion’s share of a $180,000 soccer field with stadium-seating. The foundation’s president calls the facility “one of the best in the state.”

Now, they need money to upgrade the field’s lighting. Enter Goodwill.

On Jan. 25, the foundation and the high school’s male and female soccer players participated in a new kind of club fundraiser being offered by Goodwill to school clubs, bands, choirs, civic groups, etc., across Middle and West Tennessee.

In these Fundraising Drives, Goodwill partners with the organization, helping to set up and promote a one-day event. The club does the work of collecting donations of gently used clothing, household goods and furniture,and Goodwill in return pays the club 10 cents for every pound of donations collected.

The money adds up quickly, considering the average Goodwill donor brings two bags weighing 25 pounds each. Donations of heavy items like furniture can boost the payback exponentially.

In Hendersonville, while the soccer foundation was wrapping up its annual weekend-long winter tournament inside the high school, some players and parents were outside, collecting, sorting and bagging donations and loading them onto three Goodwill trailers.

Planning for the donation drive began a month earlier, when Goodwill Donations Specialist Brynn Waller contacted foundation President Greg Hunter. She walked him through the process and provided him with scripts for emails announcing the event, which were sent to to soccer player’s parents, teachers and friends, as well as coaches of the 65 teams playing in the tournament. Brynn also provided fliers that were distributed to local businesses, churches and neighborhoods. She stressed that advance promotion was the key to a successful drive.

The group put information about the drive on their website, and parents and players posted updates on their Facebook pages and other social media. And they started gathering donations right away, storing them at their houses until the big day.

“It really worked out well,” Hunter said. “We actually rented a 26-foot U-Haul truck so that we could take donations on Saturday before the donation drive, and we filled it up.”

On Sunday, Hunter set up a tent by the trailers and soccer players stood by the street and held signs provided by Goodwill, alerting motorists to the drive. Other players made runs in their cars to pick up items from neighbors who couldn’t make the trip. And donors streamed in to the high school parking lot.

“People came out of the woodwork,” Hunter said. “It happened to be cleaning day for a church down the road, so they ended up dropping a lot of stuff off for us as well.”

By the end of the drive, the foundation and its supporters had packed three Goodwill trailers with donations. Total weight: 19,180 pounds. A few days later, Goodwill presented the Foundation with a check for $1,918.

“The school had lots of participation from not just the soccer family but everybody at the school and in the neighborhood,” foundation treasurer Cowden said. “The kids had fun, it was easy for them to participate, and people had a chance to clean stuff out of their homes that they didn’t need.

“We supported Goodwill, and Goodwill supported us,” she said. “It was all-inclusive.”

Donors can also claim a deduction on next year’s taxes. Thus the “win-win.”

But there is one more major benefit. The donations the soccer foundation collected will be sold to pay for Goodwill’s mission of providing employment and training opportunities for people in need of work. Last year in Sumner County, where Hendersonville High School is located, nearly 1,300 people received Goodwill’s services and 572 of those were placed in jobs.

“I’m glad we are giving back to the community,” said Austin Stevens, a 17-year-old striker and midfielder for the Hendersonville High School boys soccer team. “It makes us all feel good to help out.”

Goodwill rolled out its new Fundraising Donation Drives program on Dec. 13. As of mid February there had been three drives that produced 26,720 pounds of donations to Goodwill and a total payout to clubs of $2,978. To set up a Fundraising Donation Drive or for more information, contact Brynn Waller by email at brynn.waller@givegw.org or by phone at (615) 346-1629.

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