Goodwill Workers Share The Most Intriguing Thing Someone Has Ever Donated
You know what they say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And there’s no better place than Goodwill to find the perfect mix of just that. From human teeth to the ashes of grandma’s favorite cat, there’s no shortage of strange items coming across the desk of an unsuspecting donation sorter. As a Goodwill employee, one can only imagine the questions they must want to ask donors.
From creepy to foul and everything in between, the brave souls at Goodwill came to share the strangest and most interesting donations they’ve ever received.
#35 Ashes To Ashes
A poor dead guy, Gregory. He’s a box of ashes that we have to keep in the cash room because we have to wait for Loss Control (or whoever) to pick him up. He’s been with us for over a year now because no one from Corporate ever takes him, and myself and quite a few coworkers are very fond of him. Any time we get a new cashier, we make sure to introduce them to Greg, and any time something weird happens, well, it was probably Gregory’s ghost.
#34 The Red Violin… Or, Cello
My area of expertise is instruments and occasionally people donate INCREDIBLE antique instruments. There are many dealers who watch these so it’s not like you can go find one on the shelf for $50.
But recently, for example, someone donated an amazing German cello from a respected maker made around the 1750’s. Even without being able to take a good look at it, at auction it could have gotten anywhere from $5k-$30k.
But beyond the monetary value, imagine the history of an instrument that old. Outliving so many of its players. Being played in courts and concert halls before electricity could light them. Being made completely by hand. Even the source trees were cut down by hand and horses pulled them to a mill. Performance after performance for over two-and-a-half centuries all to end up being given to Goodwill. It sort of short circuits my mind a little bit to think about how we lived then and how we live now… and then sometimes how those times intersect at Goodwill. Kind of sad, kind of beautiful.
#33 To The Moon And Back
One time a guy came to the donation center and asked me, “Do you guys take magazines?” I told him, “Generally no, unless they’re old enough to potentially be collectible.” He said, “Why don’t you take a look at them and let me know what you think?” So I open up the first box, and right on top is a Time Magazine with a picture of the moon landing, dated July of 1969. So, of course, I tell the guy “Yeah ok, we can take these.” He had two boxes of them, and most of them were pretty big stories, though.
#32 At Least They Weren’t Snot Rockets
I worked in the sorting area for a month sorting electronics. It was mostly junk but I did get this big RC robot that shot little rockets. The guy across from me did not find it amusing.
#31 Creepy On So Many Levels
The scariest thing was definitely the baby dolls duct taped together and filled with a suspicious white powder. After being locked in my office with my boss because we both got near them for two hours waiting for the police to get chemical testing done we found out they were filled with cornstarch
#30 Off With Her Head
We once had someone donate a guillotine. I think we sold for it for $30.
(Okay, it was a magician’s guillotine, but still a rather unusual donation.)
#29 When It Looks Suspicious
Goodwill was my first job. My first day of working there, I opened a box and saw some yarn. It looked suspicious, so I poked it and a bunch of pinkies (baby mice) crawled out.
That was a pretty good indicator of what the next year of my employment was going to be like. The only thing I really learned was that people take “donation” to mean “free trash dump.”
#28 A Whole New Meaning To The Ugly Sweater Trend
Sorting through donations and found a sweater with what appeared to be a really detailed mouse design on the front. Upon closer inspection, it was a dead mouse that had been mashed into the sweater for so long that the two fused together.
#27 Don’t They Know Puppies Are Sacred?
A dog, a literal live puppy was dumped in one of our donation bins, it had been in there at least two days we’d figured. In the end, it turned out to be fine and our manager found a home for it.
#26 Don’t Look Into Their Eyes
Someone once brought in some creepy statues of children. They looked alright until you saw their eyes. Oh god! Their eyes! They were indentations made by the artist’s fingers so they looked gouged out.
Apparently, they were made by some famous person? They came with certificates, as though someone would actually want those things.
Look up sculptures by Lee Bortin. After hours of searching “creepy sculptures” and surfing eBay, I now have nightmares and Google will keep fueling me with ads about them. Yay.
#25 I Told You To Keep The Cat Away From The Shark Tank
I definitely found an urn with a collar on it with a cat’s ashes, and I also found two very small preserved sharks. Not sure what kind they were, but they definitely each fit in a regular mason jar full of what I think was formaldehyde. (The sharks were in separate jars, not two crammed into one.) I also found a taxidermy cat head.
#24 No Soup For You
Pretty tame but once received a donation of soup cans which went out of date two years ago. It wasn’t uncommon to get one year out of date, but a decade?
#23 When You’re Too Busy Tying Jeans To Use The Bathroom
Customers were also pretty weird. I once cleaned a dressing room with about fifty pairs of jeans tied in knots around the chair in there. In the middle, I discovered he had relieved himself on the chair before tying the jeans to it.
#22 I’II Take A Bottle Of The House Cobra
A bottle of wine with a cobra in it, a giant nutcracker, lots of social security cards, a bag full of dirty diapers, a live bat, and a live snake. One of my coworkers received a dog at the opening of a new store. He still has that dog.
#21 Don’t Get Your Underwears In A Twist
Some of the fun stuff I saw was… an unopened package of novelty glasses from the 70s when you put your cold drink in them you get to see the ladies lose their clothes. I wanted to snag those but the manager brought them to his office.
One woman would show up every weekend and donate the trash from her car. Think fast food wrappers and junk mail. We would have to take it and then it got thrown away right when she left.
The one that stuck with me was some creepy guy walked up to the donations area and asked if we take “underwears”. I said we did so he came back with one small bag of underpants. He replied here is the “underwears”. I put the bag with the rest of the clothes. Halfway back to his car he turned around and came back and asked if I kept the “underwears”; I told him I did. He left to his car again. This happened about three more times before he drove off, coming back to make sure I wasn’t going to throw away the “underwears”. I assured him I wasn’t. He left and those went right in the garbage.
#20 Knight In Shining Armor
We had this eight-inch-tall suit of metal armor come through, mounted on a piece of solid marble.
This thing was handmade and the quality, if a little beat up, was comparable to that of fine artisanal blacksmithing. It was immaculate. Even better was the fact that if you lifted the beaver, voila; a flame appeared. The entire setup was a lighter!
After the price of $80 was tentatively put on it, we took it out to the front counter where the was a display cabinet for collectibles. It never made it there. A customer at the counter thought it was neat and paid the full price on the spot.
#19 Because A Cane Flask Is So Much Classier
Just as I was getting off my shift, an old man came in to donate some walking canes. One of them had a handle made out of a goat horn and the other had a handle that detached from the stick to reveal a flask underneath for storing brandy.
#18 Well That’s Not Creepy At All
A few summers back someone dropped off a freezer that had been chained shut and locked. It sat outside all night, leading the contents to melt and start leaking out. The next morning the workers come in to see this freezer, chained shut, that had been dripping… BLOOD?!
Cops are called at this point because we think somebody just donated a DEAD BODY. They show up, the freezer gets opened to find… a freezer full of deer meat. Womp womp.
#17 Your Potty Doesn’t Have To Go Home But It Can’t Stay Here
I’ve had several children’s potties thrown at me (empty) because we didn’t take those.
#16 When In Doubt, Don’t Smell It
My brother worked at a collection truck in a parking lot and someone once left a large, ornate glass bowl of human feces. The guy he was working with couldn’t believe it so he stuck his face right up to it. It was indeed a sloppy bowl of number two.
#15 Ready For Your Close Up
There was a bikini trimmer with the reason for return being “didn’t trim close enough”.
#14 Because You Can’t Finish Without All Of The Pieces
I remember a woman who showed up with a single puzzle piece in a zip lock bag. She said she donated the rest of the puzzle earlier.
#13 When Your Parents Perform Exorcisms
Someone came up with an actual U-Haul full of stuff from their deceased parents’ house. Most of it was junk that we threw away for various reasons. Too damaged or dirty to sell, dead roaches in it, live roaches crawling on it etc.
I picked up one box. It was a fairly small box covered with a thin layer of leather, and it had Acts 19:12 embossed on it. I opened the box, and inside was a small cross, a bible and a small bottle of water. I Googled Acts 19:12 and came across this:
“So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.”
So I’m, like, 99% sure that was an exorcism kit…
#12 No Need For A Bandage, I’ll Just Cut It Off
Only worked there for three days because they were really short staffed. Someone donated a knife with blood stains on it.
Turns out it was the donator’s own blood after having cut off a badly infected toe on his own. We only found out because police got involved.
#11 They Like Their Salmon Well Done
And my personal favorite. It was a hot humid day in the summer and we were slammed with donations. Two guys pull up in a truck, drop off only a microwave and peel out before I can say anything. We had a loading dock at our store, and I would put donations up there when we were busy and didn’t have any trucks coming in, so the microwave was at eye level with me. I popped open the door to see what was inside. I was greeted with what was the worst smell I hope to ever experience. In the ~100F weather they had put in five or six SLABS of rotten salmon. I’m talking green. Typing this makes me feel the beauty of this moment all over again.
#10 A Little Piece Of History
Worked at a Goodwill for a year; the most interesting thing was a 49-starred American flag from before Hawaii became a state and newspapers of WW2 ending.
#9 Baller, Shot Caller
The coolest would have been when a local NBA athlete who was moving to another state donated a bunch of custom-made Nike shoes that basically only a few pairs existed, along with a genuine MCM leather backpack, a bunch of memorabilia items from when they won the championship in 2016, and clothes made by Gucci, Prada, and a $1500 Bluetooth speaker.
#8 When Your Mom Donates Your Old Trophies
Kids sport participation trophies….with the kid’s name still inscribed. Weirder yet to me, the sorters in the back actually clear them to go out into the floor.
#7 Because You Never Know When You’ll Need 110 Pounds Of Slaw
110 pounds of ready to make coleslaw off of a refrigerated truck. Why? How?
#6 The 16-Year-Old Who Had The Best Day Ever
There was a man who donated an old leather suitcase with a lock on it. It was a bit small but had some weight to it, I asked him if he had the key for it and he just drove off without answering (he handed it to me from his car window) so I thought there was either a bunch of money or a bunch of illicit substances inside. It was a slow day so I took my time trying to open this thing. With how it sounded when I shook it, it was definitely paper inside (my 16-year-old mind at the time thought money) I eventually was able to pry it open with the help of a hammer and screwdriver and saw that it was filled to the top with vintage Playboy Magazines. I’m talking mint-condition issues from the 70’s-80’s era.
#5 This Takes Recycling To A Whole New Level
My favorite donations were usually handmade— a baseball cap stitched together out of Coke cans, a tote bag made from Capri Sun pouches stitched together, little planes made from cans. People do interesting things with their drinks. Surprisingly aesthetic stuff!
#4 Just A Lady And Her Spiders
This lady donated a box of spiders. TWICE. It was a very bizarre looking box so the second time I recognized it but the first time we had an outbreak of spiders all over the sorting room and multiple people quit. I don’t know how this lady managed to get so many spiders into a box, I don’t know why she did it, but that lady and her spiders. The second time we just threw the box into the compactor and after squishing it, sure enough, there were like 10,000,000 spiders crawling around. Still gives me the creeps.
#3 Grams Donated Fluffy Again
Fairly consistently we get animal bones. Once we got someone’s dog’s ashes, and once just one bird wing without the rest of the bird.
#2 You Might Want To Open That One
One day, the truck guys come in, carrying this oddly shaped white plastic box. They slap a price on it and head to the sales floor.
I’m like “Wait a second, what is that?” They say they don’t know. I shake it. Heavy. There’s no way to open it. It looks like its sealed shut. No name or ID tag.
Then I realize: oh my god. This is a body.
It was an unmarked cremation container. Someone died in the house, it was bought and they donated everything inside. Just happened to be a body in there too.
#1 That’s One Lazy Tooth Fairy
Goodwill employee for four years here. I was the main donation attendant and I saw tons of toys, paraphernalia, and dirty underwear (seriously, wash that before you donate.) But the weirdest thing I ever found was a small box that had three sandwich bags filled with teeth. Not just baby teeth, but adult teeth mixed in. I don’t know what that person was in to, but it was weird.