Jon’s Support System Found in His Goodwill Family

Can you imagine being misunderstood most of your life? Jon had been in group homes as a teenager and never had someone who believed in him and what he was capable of until he came to Goodwill.

Jon’s family believed he wouldn’t amount to much of anything. He would never get out on his own and be completely dependent on them for everything. Because of this mindset that was instilled in him throughout his life, Jon struggled to find his place.

Several dead-end jobs later, Jon was referred to Goodwill’s Employment Skills Training Program. A 6-week program teaching individuals the hard and soft skills needed to be successful in the workplace. Participants learn essential job skills that they will be able to transfer to a job. Jon’s life changed forever when he found a mentor and friend in Chasity (Employment Specialist).

Jon did various janitorial duties while he learned transferable job skills such as being professional and communicating with co-workers and managers. Chasity saw Jon’s potential because he came to work with a positive attitude and took pride in his job.  After Jon’s completion of the program, Chasity helped him get a job at Shopko as a Hardlines Team Associate. At first, it was hard for Jon to fit in with his co-workers and managers. With Chasity’s encouragement, Jon continued to work hard and managed to gain their trust. Jon replies, “These people became my work family and I still keep in contact with them today despite Shopko closing.”

On the last day of work at ShopKo, Jon was presented by Christine, Assistant Manager at Shopko with the Star Service Champion Award. Cynthia told Jon, “We are presenting the Star Service Champion Award to you because you went above and beyond our expectations. You truly went the extra mile for the customers.” At that moment, Jon was in tears. He had never been complimented in his entire life for anything he had done. This was a defining moment for Jon and when he learned, “People in the community see me for who I am.”

One of the goals Jon had when he first started at Goodwill was to move out on his own. Today, Jon has found his own apartment and is becoming independent. “Moving out on his own was a big step for Jon,” explained Chasity about Jon’s progress.

Today, Jon works as a gatekeeper at 1st Class Security. Chasity continues to work with Jon and according to Jon is “a light in his life.” Jon credits Chasity for the support and encouragement she has given him to be the best version of himself.  

Exciting Announcement about Camp Goodwill

As you may know, the board and our leadership team made a strategic decision a few short years ago to transition camp to a higher purpose and market it for sale. As the saying rings true, everything has its time and purpose. I am pleased to announce that we have found the perfect fit to hand off the virtual “camp baton”. Salvation Army of the Western Division has purchased the camp property. Their leadership team is quite enthused to carry on the legacy of youth services and camping. They have much experience operating youth programming and summer camping. They had a similar camp property in Nebraska until it was devastated by the flooding in 2019.  Countless more adventures will be had at camp, and they will continue to rent spaces out for events and gatherings as we have done. Our rich history will live on through the Salvation Army, and youth services will continue under their management and ownership for years to come.

  • John Hantla, President and CEO, Goodwill of the Great Plains

New Year, New You!

What is your New Year’s resolution this year? Is it to lose weight or get fit? Are you wanting to save money and reduce waste? Do you want to relax with a good book? If your resolution includes one or all of these, Goodwill can help!

Fitness and Wellness


If you are planning to work out this year and need some activewear on a budget. Look no further than Goodwill! Sweatpants, sports bras, capris and shorts are a few of the activewear pieces you can find at Goodwill.

Healthy Eating

Meal planning is an excellent way to eat healthier. You are not only planning what you are eating but you are saving money by not eating out. This helps to prevent cravings, curve impulse eating, and eliminating food waste.

A reusable water bottle you can fill up during the day can help you get healthier. Water refreshes and cleanses the toxins in your body. A reusable water bottle can help you save money because you are not filling your body with caffeinated, sugary beverages throughout the day helping you slim down. At Goodwill you can find reusable water bottles in several colors and styles.


Midwest weather can be brutal during the long, winter months. This is a perfect excuse to cozy up with a good book. If you love mysteries and cracking the case or the thrill of learning about the history behind the famous figures in US history excites you or you want to learn more about improving your wellbeing, we have books for everyone.  

Do you tend to forget to read? (Helpful hint: Set aside time in the morning or at night and set reminders on your phone to remind yourself to relax with a good book.)

Save Money

Every time you make the choice to shop in our stores you are saving money because we have high quality items at amazing prices, plus for every 87 cents you spend in our stores you are helping individuals in your community find job training and employment.

DIY Cozy Kitchen Kit

by Julia Marchand

Is there anyone on your holiday shopping list who has recently moved? Anyone young and just starting out on their own? Any new marriages to celebrate or roommates you appreciate? A cozy kitchen kit might be just the right customizable gift idea to brighten their holiday season. The best part, other than knowing that your purchase helps Goodwill to create job training programs that meet the needs of local employers in high-growth industries, is that you can completely personalize the gift bundle especially for your pal. Here are a few tips for putting together the perfect little package:

Tip 1: Include items that you know they don’t have or will definitely use. Above is my thrift haul for the kit I put together! I always love cooking with wooden spoons for their versatility and look, so that was at the top of my list of things to include. Tea towels are another one of those items that no one can do without so I made sure to grab some of those. Since it’s almost Christmas, I also tossed in some cookie cutters that my local Goodwill was selling in their original packaging for only a dollar! These are all pieces that my friend either doesn’t have or can definitely use more of so I know they’ll be put to good use.

Tip 2: Share recipes that regularly warm up your own kitchen. This is the really special part of the kit: including your own favorite recipes. If you have recipe cards or if you thrifted a recipe box, perfect! If not, you can always use regular index cards instead. Take some time to comb through your own cookbooks and kitchen notes to pass on the gift of your favorite foods. Good smells and full tummies are really the best way to guarantee a cozy kitchen, after all. You could even crowd-source traditional family foods from friends you have in common to further enhance the gift. The more you add, the better it gets!

Tip 3:  Look in every section for the best box or basket. You’ll need to make sure it’s the right size to hold everything so it might be helpful for you to know what you’re giving before you select the container for it all. My first hope was to package everything inside or tied atop a recipe box until my eyes fell on this beautiful copper basket. It was actually being used as a display for sewing patterns at my local Goodwill, but when I turned it over there was a price tag—score! In the end, this actually worked way better than the recipe box since it’s large and sturdy enough to fit two cute mugs.

Tip 4: Customize colors to match their kitchen. Look for kitchen goodies that match their decor scheme. Think of any neutral items, like this wooden spoon, as a blank canvas. It’s easy to coordinate mismatched thrift store finds when you tie them together with one color. And dip-dying utensils couldn’t be easier! Just find a non-toxic or food-safe paint for your accent color.

To add a fresh apple green handle to my wooden spoon, I first hung the spoon up somewhere safe and out of the way. You can use string, a twisty tie, or even a binder clip to dangle your utensil with the handle-side down. Place newspaper under the spoon to catch any drips then just dip the whole handle into a bottle of non-toxic paint. Read the directions to find out how much time it usually takes to dry, but keep in mind that since the paint is going on so thick, it really will need more time than the directions say. I let mine hang for 24 hours before even touching it.

You won’t want to paint directly on any areas that will touch food, but utensil handles, the sides of a cutting board, or the outside of a bowl are all great places to add some color. They’ll also need to be hand-washed to keep them in good condition for many years to come. Try dipping your handle straight down or tilt the bottle a little for an angled line at the top of the paint! You could take it a step further by writing a cute phrase or a family name over the paint in fancy script. If you go for their name, this could even take the place of a gift tag!

Tip 5: Use items from the kit in the wrapping. If I had gone with the recipe box, I would have used a rolled up tea towel instead of a ribbon and bow then tied that around the wooden spoon right on top. But because I found bigger items that I knew my friend would use, I instead tied the cookie cutters so they’re dangling off of the bow. Think about ways you can use the necessities inside your kit to act in place of wrapping paper, a bow, or ribbon. It’s a fun and completely on-theme arrangement for the gift!

This is such an easy way to find something special for the people on your list this holiday season. With the personal touches like favorite recipes and hand-painted accents, they are sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness. Plus, every time each item is used to stir, simmer, or sift, you’ll warm up their cozy kitchen all over again. Enjoy this season of giving, my friends!

Goodwill Christmas Gift Guide

By Carissa Chatfield

Christmas is almost one week away! Do you still have last minute Christmas gifts to buy on your shopping list? This year, why not try shopping at Goodwill? Shopping at Goodwill is not only good for the environment because you are helping recycle but easy on your wallet and you will find amazing, unique items for everyone on your list. What’s great about shopping at Goodwill is 87 cents of every dollar you spend goes back towards our mission of helping individuals find job training and employment. Keep reading for a few last-minute gift ideas you can find at Goodwill.


If you have an avid reader to buy for this year, check out our book selection. We have books for the kids, teens, and adults in many different genres including: suspense, mystery, romance, fiction, and non-fiction. Your wallet will thank you because books are at a great price of $0.75 for kids, $1.50 for paperback, and $2.00 for hardcover.

Movies/TV Shows

Movies and TV shows make a great gift for a movie night or movie buff in your life. At Goodwill, you will find a variety of movies and TV shows. Action, drama, sci-fi, rom-com, and many more you will find in our stores. At the low price of only $2.00 for DVDs and $5.00 for TV shows you will want to grab some as gifts and for yourself.

Vinyl Records

Records are a hot Christmas gift this year. We have many vintage and modern records at an unbelievable price of only $0.75. Country, blues, rock and roll are a few of the different genres you will find. This is a perfect gift for any music lover in your life. 

Board Games/Puzzles

Board games and puzzles are an excellent gift idea for any age. Educational, strategy, and memory are a few of the different games you will find in our game section. At a great price of only $2.00 you can’t say no to at least getting a few.