Goodwill offers Halloween contest, and much more

Goodwill Delaware is getting ready for its third annual Creative Halloween Costume Contest.

“Halloween is Goodwill’s biggest time of the year, because people tend go there to find unique or inexpensive costumes,” explained Julie Burns, creative manager for Goodwill Delaware.

The contest will run through Nov. 5 and gives Goodwill shoppers the chance to show how creative they can get with at least three Goodwill finds, by crafting their own Halloween costume.

“We’ve always done a campaign around the holiday just to remind people, ‘Hey, come to us for your Halloween needs.’ You can find something unique, rather than going to a costume shop, and you’re going to get it at a much lower cost.”

Last year, more than 90 peopled entered the contest. This year, entrants have the opportunity to win a new 16GB iPad, awarded to the first-prize winner, an 8GB iPod Touch as second prize and a $100 Goodwill gift card for third prize.

Entrants need to save their Goodwill receipt to show the items were purchased at a Goodwill location. To enter, all they have to do is take a picture of themselves or someone else in the costume and upload it to the GoodwillDE Facebook page, under the contest tab.

Burns said the costumes submitted will be judged by a half-dozen Goodwill employees.

“We print all of the pictures out and we rank which we like, and we tally which ones are everyone’s favorites,” she explained. “We do look at how much of the stuff actually came from Goodwill, how unique is it, did they make it themselves? — things like that — and, definitely, how much thought and creativity went into it is the biggest piece.”

Goodwill has 15 storefront locations throughout Delaware and Delaware County, Pa. Although many people may think that Goodwill only resells donated clothing and homewares, they would be mistaken.

“Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people with barriers to self-sufficiency through the power of work,” said Burns. “We help to create jobs, and we help people find jobs and become qualified for jobs. We offer a ton of different training programs and services.”

Burns said those “barriers” could be anything from a physical or mental disability to having spent time in jail.

“We create jobs in that sense, and then we help people with some kind of barrier find jobs, and we help train them so they can get those jobs.”

Goodwill has job resource centers that help those who are unemployed with everything from writing their résumé to learning to use computer software.

“We teach them how to get a job,” said Burns. “We look at what their skills are and what skills they might need to help them.”

Goodwill also has its own janitorial business, which has contracts with the State of Delaware and the University of Delaware, as well as operating Durable Medical Equipment, which refurbishes and resells medical equipment.

“We take old medical equipment that people don’t need anymore, that is donated to us, and we refurbish it and sanitize it, fix it, make sure it’s in really good, safe condition and sell it back to people in the community that need it, for a fraction of its original cost,” said Burns. “We also have Goodwill Staffing Services, It’s basically a staffing agency, and we have different companies we work with to put people into jobs.”

Goodwill also offers the chance for businesses to join with them in employment ventures and partner with their cause.

“We have a ShopRite training program. We partner with them to train cashiers. There’s a month-long training program that people can go through and then become employed in a ShopRite as a cashier.”

Throughout Delaware and Delaware County, Goodwill Delaware employs close to 500 people through all of their programs and partnerships.

“We are a nonprofit, and what’s amazing is 90 percent of our revenue goes directly back into the mission,” said Burns. “It’s going back into this amazing mission where we’re helping people get jobs and become self-sustainable, especially in this economy.”

Burns said that, although Goodwill’s retail stores seem to get the most notice from citizens, the organization is much, much more.

“We are more than a store, and so many people just see us that way,” said Burns. “We do so much.”

To enter Goodwill’s Creative Halloween Costume Contest, visit To learn more about the organization’s work, visit