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      Last day of year is busiest day for Goodwill stores

      Retail stores have been swamped this week handling returns of Christmas gifts that were the wrong size or color, but for one group of stores the last day of the year is typically the busiest day for a different reason.

      Goodwill Industries locations are often overflowing with donations on December 31, in large part because of a different date on the calendar: April 15.

      At the Goodwill store near Surfside Beach, cars lined up at the donation door, while shoppers lined up at the checkout counter.

      In the back room, workers busily folded and sorted items, getting them ready for the retail floor.

      "We're pulling out old stuff and bringing out new stuff," said Goodwill employee Chelsea Hopkins. "It is pretty busy, it's been packed."

      Even Goodwill administrative personnel got into the act Tuesday.

      "Generally, my time is spent in an office behind a desk with a computer, interviewing people or meeting with businesses or that sort of thing, but today it'll be in the stores," said Goodwill workforce development director Rick Shelley.

      Shelley says over the holidays, Goodwill donations go up because many people have the time and desire to rid their closets of unwanted items.

      But the end of the year is also a good chance for people to get a write-off on next year's taxes by donating to a non-profit.

      "Oh yeah, I'm going to write it off, but that's not the main reason I give," said Craig Hoffman of Myrtle Beach. "I give because it's stuff that's still usable and can do some good."

      The good that Goodwill does is to put people to work and without items that can be sold in the retail store, nothing else at the store works.

      "Goodwill of lower South Carolina put 1,100 people to work last year, through donations. That's why we like to refer to our donors as job-makers," Shelley said.

      This year, Shelley says Goodwill stores on the Grand Strand area provided jobs for more than 500 people with various disabilities.

      For Goodwill regulars like Sharon Herring, who says she shops at the Surfside Beach store nearly every day, the best part is the bargains.

      "I like the prices and it helps put people to work and it's nice merchandise," said Herring.