Reverend Edgar J. Helms founded the first Goodwill in 1902 in Boston. The Methodist minister collected used clothes and household goods, and then trained and hired the poor and immigrants to fix them. By doing so, he developed a method to help men and women in need by giving them hope, dignity, and independence. The items were then resold or given to those who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.
Today, there are 185 Goodwill Industries members or affiliate organizations worldwide. Each Goodwill is an independent, non-profit organization, and a part of Goodwill Industries International.
Goodwill Industries of Atlanta was started in 1925 as a 501(c)(3) by a group of local citizens. The group worked in a small house, collecting used goods with a horse and wagon and mending clothes on pedal-operated sewing machines. In an attempt to find the right location, Atlanta’s Goodwill moved its operation several times. Between 1925 and 1959, the agency called Edgewood Avenue, Butler Street, and Peters Street home.
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