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Cheryl Hughes: Goodwill Sweater

One cold day last week, I bundled up my granddaughter in her warm jacket and dropped her off at school.  When I arrived at work, I realized in all the gathering for her, I had forgotten my own jacket.  It gets really cold at our shop because we have to raise the door up and down so much in order for cars to drive in and out.  I remembered I had a box of clothes in the back of my car I was going to drop off at Goodwill, so I dug around in the box until I found an old hooded sweater.  I put it on, and it felt wonderful.


                My husband, Garey, was watching this take place from his cozy position at the office window, and when I walked in and announced what I’d had to do and why, he said, “SEE!”  I knew exactly what that “SEE” and the accompanying smug look on his face meant.  It meant that in the future, I had better adhere to his life mantra: It is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.  (I think I’m going to put that on his tombstone if I outlive him.)

                Just last week, Garey rummaged around in the back seat of his pickup until he found an old quilted shirt for one of our employees to wear around.  Dillion had forgotten his jacket and he was freezing.  The shirt is a good fifteen years old and it has a big hole in the outer layer where Garey caught it on fire while he was welding.  I shook my head in disbelief when Garey pulled it out for Dillion to wear, but Dillion was just glad to have something warm, and Garey beamed with delight at having saved the day with something he hadn’t thrown away because he knew he might need it someday.

                On the day I was wearing the Goodwill sweater, our friend, Marian, came by for an oil change.  Garey told her about my having left my jacket and having to dig through the box of donations for something to wear, and she said she had ended up in a very similar situation.  Marian’s friend put a box of clothes she no longer wanted into the trunk of Marian’s car.  She told Marian to get out anything she wanted then to just take the rest to Goodwill.  Marian kept meaning to drop off the clothes, but never got around to it.  One day, she and a friend stopped to help a woman who was involved in a traffic accident during the pouring rain.  By the time they got back into the car, they were both soaked to the bone.  Marian remembered the donation box in her trunk and was able to dig out a change of clothes for the two of them. 

                “SEE!” Garey said.  We laughed.

                I never give anything away that belongs to Garey, and that includes his clothes.  One of Garey’s friends had a wife that didn’t adhere to that principal.  She was always going through his clothes and giving away things she didn’t like or things she thought he didn’t wear anymore to the local Mission.  One day, the guy’s sister stopped by to see him.  She had been by the Mission and picked up a few things she thought he might like. 

                She held up a shirt and asked, “Do you think this shirt will fit you?”

                “Yeah, I know it will fit me,” Garey’s friend answered, “It’s my shirt!”


                I understand why Garey is hesitant to throw things away.  He is always fixing things with parts from other things he didn’t throw away.  “It’s not eatin anything,” he says, of all the extra stuff lying around.  I beg to differ.  It’s eating away at my need for order; although, I have to admit I have my own collection of craft materials I won’t throw away for fear my granddaughter might need them for a school project.  And that hooded sweater is awfully warm.  It might just stay out of the Goodwill box.  I could always store it in the back seat of Garey’s truck, along with all the old shirts he won’t get rid of.  Somebody might forget a jacket.


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