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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Grab Bag 1.0: A Family Affair

At first glance NAEIR’s Grab Bag area seems unorganized, maybe even a little chaotic and challenging to navigate.  I suspect this may well be by design.  A closer look reveals that these very characteristics are some of the greatest things about Grab Bag; you never know what you might find. From one day to the next things change – product disappears, or seems to.  Product is replenished.  New items are added. There’s a strong compulsion to linger over many of the items you come across as you walk through this area.  On any given, day – especially early in the day, people and product alike sometimes move quickly, at other times members linger over certain items -  with Steve Adams helping members while maintaining a sense of organization as best he can. 

Steve Adams, Grab Bag Supervisor
Having said this, I need to make something very clear.  A minute (if that) with Steve Adams, Grab Bag Supervisor, communicates an obvious commitment in overseeing Grab Bag.  Anything less than maintaining a well-organized operation is not in his make-up.  Steve strives daily to make sense of an area that members are encouraged to take full advantage of.  They make every effort to unearth hidden treasure not always in plain sight, and will move heaven and earth – not to mention cartons, pallets, rolls of fabric, office supplies, wall-coverings and many more items too numerous to list here.

Last week I talked with three people from three different member organizations that have visited Grab Bag for years.

All three organizations share a common goal: to create programs and fund projects for people in need.  Each had a unique approach and each sought a different mix of product in Grab Bag.

I first met David Mairs, a business administrator at Calvary Lighthouse, an Assembly of God church in Rochelle, IL. Lighthouse runs programs for kids of all ages, has a youth ministry and supports local missions such as food banks.  Calvary Lighthouse has benefitted greatly in its 15 plus years as a member of NAEIR.

David Mairs, a business administrator
at Calvary Lighthouse, poses with his
grab bag finds
During this Grab Bag visit Mairs found all sorts of great educational supplies that will help with the Lighthouse’s after school programs, as well as some basic janitorial and maintenance supplies that help cut down on their overall budget.  Savings realized through their Grab Bag visits allow them to direct budget resources more toward their organization’s core mission.

Mairs says he has a particular attitude in mind when coming to Grab Bag.  He’s always looking ahead.  As Mairs surveys and in some cases more carefully examines many of the products on pallets, he’s thoughtful about what his organization might be able to use three to six months and often as far out as a year in advance. On this trip, Mairs found 20 piƱatas that he will use in October for Lighthouse’s Annual Harvest Festival.

Carl Thomas, a first time visitor
to Grab Bag from Radiant Life Church in 

Festus, MO
Something else that I observed as being apparent in Grab Bag that I noticed first through Mairs is the commitment organizations have toward helping one another.  As Steve Adams points out “grab bag is really a family thing.” He explained that the Grab Bag experience helps to further cement the relationship that NAEIR wants to establish with its members. Grab Bag provides us with opportunities to show members what NAEIR at its core, is all about.  

Relationships among members are interesting in their own right as well.

Since the organizations all have a common goal, they’re all willing to work together toward that goal. For example, while I was in Grab Bag Mairs happened across a pallet of first aid kits. First aid kits in Grab Bag are considered a gold mine.  Mairs took the few first aid kits that he felt his organization could use and then alerted other members in Grab Bag to the fact that this was a great item that he knew others could make use of as well.   This is when I met Paul Swanson, an administrator at Calvary Christian Academy.

Stay tuned for the next installation about Grab Bag, in which I talk to Paul Swanson. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

HR 2592 Top Trending On & A Greater Bill Websites

On the website - , HR 2592 ranks 5th among the top 13 trending bills nationally!

The Charitable Contribution Parity & Enhancement Act is at the very top of a list of over 40 Taxation issue area related bills within the social work, volunteer services and charitable organization category for this site.  The bill is clearly drawing the attention of nonprofits, schools and churches in the U.S. as well as the small business community.  Just take a look at a few of the many comments posted -

On this -, website - HR 2592 is # 1 in top trending national bi-partisan legislation under both the Corporate Tax as well as the Poverty Alleviation categories.

This is evidence of the strong bi-partisan nature of this legislation.  It ranks #2 among all topics listed, on a website that seeks to bring genuinely bi-partisan legislation to the attention of legislators and the public at large!

Go to: and and support HR2592.  While at each stop, take a good look around.  You'll find other noteworthy legislation and of course - opportunities to register your opinion as well.

Welcome Zoe!

I’d like to introduce Zoe Marzluff.  Currently a student at Knox College here in Galesburg, Illinois, Zoe will be working with us as an intern in NAEIR’s Public Affairs department. 

She’ll be contributing to this Blog in the near future as well as to the NAEIR Facebook page.  While she’s at it, she’ll of course be learning a great deal about NAEIR in general. 

This past week Zoe met some NAEIR members visiting our Grab Bag area.  She’ll soon be featuring some of the highlights related to her time with them.  
Zoe Marzluff

Zoe is already aware of NAEIR’s efforts in the legislative realm on behalf of charities and small businesses and will also be sharing her thoughts in this area.

Zoe is originally from Seattle, WA.  She’s a first-year student at Knox, studying international relations.  She’s very interested in charitable organizations and sees interning at NAEIR as a means of gaining experience in the nonprofit sector as well as improving her written and oral communication skills.  These are critical for the development of ideas and arguments that she will eventually employ in an international relations career.

Zoe enjoys reading and listening to as much music as possible.  She’s one of the first-year representatives of Knox’s Student Senate and plays flute with the flute choir. She’s a member of the Knox Frisbee team and runs whenever she gets the chance.

Zoe hopes to gain experience and the skills necessary at NAEIR to further achieve her goal of someday working as a diplomat at an international nonprofit.

Zoe is excited to be at NAEIR and over the next couple of months looks forward to learning as much as she can about our organization and the people who contribute to making it successful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Get On Board And Support HR 2592

This past Friday, Gary emailed all of our donor companies as well as those that have registered interest in NAEIR over the years to go to and support HR 2592.  For those of you unfamiliar with this legislation, suffice it to say that its passage would allow small businesses to get an enhanced federal tax deduction when they donate their excess, discontinued inventory to qualifying charitable organizations.

This deduction is limited to C Corporations at this time.  Since the majority of businesses in the U.S. are small businesses, the potential benefit to our nation's charities in terms of gifts of inventory would be "big"!

If you received the email but haven't had a chance to take action.  Please do so now.  If you inadvertently deleted the email or even deliberately chose to delete it, here's your opportunity to make restitution.

Go to the above link and support the bill.  It won't reverse male pattern baldness nor will it contribute to a cure for the common cold.  It will however help thousands of nonprofits, schools and church organizations while providing a strong incentive for small businesses to help deserving charities across the U.S.

If you're a business and would like to donate to NAEIR, or if you're a nonprofit, school or church and would like to learn more about the benefits of joining, please give us a call at (800)-562-0955.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Senator LaHood Visits NAEIR

State Senator Darin LaHood, representing Illinois’ 37th District traveled to Galesburg, IL on Friday morning to visit NAEIR.

From left - State Senator Darin LaHood
[IL-37] & NAEIR President &
CEO Gary C. Smith
 The Senator had never previously visited our facility; nor was he aware of the nature of our work with nonprofits, schools and churches, our relationship with thousands of donor companies or the national scope of our outreach. NAEIR's President and CEO, Gary C. Smith, saw the occasion of the Senator's visit as an opportunity to provide him with a thorough briefing on our organization.

 Senator LaHood departed later that morning with an appreciation for the important role that NAEIR assumes in providing much needed products to charitable organizations throughout the country and the state of Illinois in particular. Founded in 1977 and now celebrating our 35th Anniversary, NAEIR continues to successfully solicit donations of a wide variety of excess inventory from America's corporations; distributing these materials to 13,000 nonprofits, schools and churches throughout the U.S.
Left to right - Senator LaHood greeting NAEIR
employees Patti Woolsey & Mary
Sue Austin

 Catalog members average $20,000 worth of free material over a year’s membership and pay a nominal annual membership fee for the service. Products include office supplies and equipment, toys, sporting goods, educational supplies, clothing, consumer electronics, personal care products and a host of other types of goods.

Donors, many of whom are Regular C corporations, realize an up to twice-cost federal tax deduction on donations of excess, slow-moving inventory that might otherwise be sold to liquidators at a nickel on the dollar or wind up in a landfill – of no use to anyone.

The Senator and Mr. Smith discussed a number of issues including the needs of charitable organizations as well as schools and churches throughout Illinois. With the Senator’s involvement in the state’s Human Services Committee, he has a passion for the needs of children and families along with broad social service concerns on the state level.
From left - Gary C. Smith
and Senator LaHood
Mr. Smith noted that families are well represented across NAEIR's membership base.  He expressed the desire to expand the number of organizations we currently provide donated product to, in order to help more families across the state.

If you're a business and would like to donate to NAEIR, or if you're a nonprofit, school or church and would like to learn more about the benefits of joining, please give us a call at (800)-562-0955.