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We live in an extraordinarily caring community. While that fact is not new, it is certainly worth repeating and celebrating. Let me add one more example.
Despite an economic recession that has impacted almost everyone in our region, Goodwill received more than 95,000 donations of clothing, household items, computers and furniture from residents in December. This was a 5 percent increase from the prior year and reversed a decline we had seen throughout the year. Beyond the numbers, are the images I have of mothers and fathers bringing their children to our donation centers. One such experience was a young girl handing me a well loved toy she was giving in the hope of helping someone she will never meet.
You only have to visit one of our job centers or one of our occupational classrooms to see the visible signs of increased unemployment. In 2008, more than 11,000 people came to Goodwill seeking help with employment, an increase of more than 80 percent from the prior year. Some of those who come to Goodwill have chronic employment barriers, while an increasing number are among those recently displaced by layoffs or closings. They all share one thing in common, they are looking for encouragement and support while they seek work.
Because of the amazing generosity of so many in our community, Goodwill has been and will continue to be there to provide employment, training and most importantly that word of encouragement.
Thank you Lancaster for your heart and your goodwill.