Spring cleaning donations help DI place more employees in new jobs

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Kelly Rey Muir, processing clothing sorter at Deseret Industries, sorts donated goods at the store in American Fork. (Photo by Matt Bennett)

Kelly Rey Muir, processing clothing sorter at Deseret Industries, sorts donated goods at the store in American Fork. (Photo by Matt Bennett)

Maybe you’re buying new clothes or furniture with your tax return, or maybe you’ve decided to use the Konmari method to spring clean your house. Either way, Deseret Industries wants your (good, in working-condition) extra stuff.

It’s the busy season for DI, said Nephi Carter, manager of the DI store in American Fork. Traffic slows down during the winter months, then really picks up in April, May and June, and then again for back-to-school time.

Men’s clothing, dressers, bed frames, couches and chairs are the big needs right now, he said.

“This time of year the big demand as far as clothing goes, there’s more demand for spring and summer clothing,” Carter said. But people tend to donate winter clothing in the spring.

Look in your closet and consider donating the things you don’t use — even blankets and books, Carter said. Or think about your old lawnmower, weed eater or yard tools; as long as they work, DI can use them.

“Clean out rather than throw away,” he said.

Sonia Broines, men's clothing associate on the sales floor, keeps the men's area organized at the front of the thrift store. (Photo by Matt Bennett)

Sonia Broines, men’s clothing associate on the sales floor, keeps the men’s area organized at the front of the thrift store. (Photo by Matt Bennett)

Plus, there are some pretty big benefits with donating to DI. Donations are tax-deductible, so donating helps you clean up your house and save on next year’s tax return. Just ask for a receipt. But the biggest benefit is what DI does with the money it makes selling your used items.

“The main reason DI exists is to train people,” Carter said. The American Fork store has 140 employees, and they’re working on gaining skills to move on to other jobs.

In some cases, DI helps employees earn their GEDs or learn English, he said. There are job coaches and counselors who work with employees to come up with self-reliance plans. For some, DI helps fund training programs to become certified nursing assistants, beauticians, truck drivers, medical assistants or dental assistants.

For others, DI partners with a business to provide employees, with DI paying the employees’ wages for a certain period, he said. “They get free labor for helping this person get training in their field.” About 85 percent of the DI employees end up being hired by the business partner.

Last year, the American Fork DI had more than 150 employees placed into new jobs in the community, Carter said. Its goal this year is 165.

“It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community,” he said. … “So many people think DI is just a thrift sore but that’s really the funding wheel of what we do. We help change people’s lives and help them get to a better place.”

For more information about DI, go to deseretindustries.org.

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

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