“My company decided to make a distinct commitment to serve the community, and when they asked me who I wanted to work with, I thought of Goodwill,” said George Harris.
For 18 years, Harris has worked for Staples Business Advantage, a company that sells office supplies and furniture directly to businesses. He’s based in North Carolina, but he has clients all over the South Atlantic region, including in the Hampton Roads area.
Like Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia, Harris doesn’t like to throw away imperfect goods. “If a new file cabinet has a small dent in it, that doesn’t prevent it from working, but the customer isn’t satisfied. We knew some of our products were still good for local businesses, charities or non-profit organizations that want to save money,” said Harris. In July 2016, he connected with Roger Fournier, Goodwill’s donations coordinator for the Peninsula and Hampton Roads.
“I was floored. It almost sounded too good to be true,” said Fournier, recalling when Harris told him he wanted to donate nearly new office furniture to Goodwill. “We sell donated furniture at many of our larger retail locations, so I was very interested in this partnership.”
Fournier said Harris offered another bonus – Harris’ drivers would bring the furniture to Goodwill’s donation center in Hampton during their regular delivery runs on the Peninsula. “I make it easy on commercial donors to transfer their goods by coordinating transportation for them, but this was a welcome surprise,” said Fournier. “His willingness to deliver to Goodwill underscored George’s commitment to making a difference in the community,” Fournier said.
Harris said it was Goodwill that surprised him. “What you don’t want a partnership to be is cumbersome. This was extremely easy. Goodwill’s organization and logistics was streamlined and we didn’t have to worry about anything,” he said.
In the past year, Harris’ company has donated desks, chairs, tables, bookcases, filing cabinets, storage cabinets and lockers to Goodwill. Once a month, his company delivers four to six pallets of new furniture to Goodwill’s Hampton donation center. So far, Harris has contributed 56 pallets of goods with an estimated value of $17,500. Those goods are sold in Goodwill’s retail stores and help to fund Goodwill’s employment and education programs for job seekers across Central and Coastal Virginia.
Harris’s partnership with Goodwill has now spread across state lines. When he asked Fournier about donating to other Goodwill retail locations in North Carolina, Fournier reached out to his counterparts at Goodwills in Durham and Charlotte.
Harris is now working with those Goodwill organizations to donate furniture and coordinate deliveries. “Working with Goodwill is a win-win. It has an established community presence and I always hear people saying positive things about the organization and its mission.”