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Goodwill plans ‘GoodNeighbor’ block party

BRADENTON — People who shop at DeSoto Junction Goodwill this Saturday will find more than good deals on books, clothing or pots and pans.

There will be a GoodNeighbor Block Party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 3611 First St. E. location.

According to organizer Anthony DiFilippo, more than 25 local nonprofit organizations and social service agencies will be represented at the community outreach event.

There will be free food, music and prizes, too.

“What we’re trying to do is develop Goodwill as a place where people can come and find it is more than a thrift store,” said DiFilippo, a VISTA GoodNeighbor volunteer. “One of the purposes of the party is to form GoodNeighbor interest groups and free classes at Goodwill.”

Those classes would be in arts, language, computers, cooking, GED and more, augmenting Goodwill’s mission as nonprofit providers of education, training and career services for people with disadvantages.

GoodNeighbor interest groups would be taught by volunteers screened by VISTA.

“We’re trying to match up people with a passion with people who are available to facilitate that passion,” DiFilippo said. “It’s about developing the community by use of its internal assets.”

Chaplain Tom Pfaff, Goodwill’s director of Neighborhood Development, said the project has been successful at two Goodwill locations in Sarasota with 100 people attending classes at each site.

“It gives people hope, a sense of purpose, a reason for us to identify what their passion is,” he said. “A good neighbor is a person who shares that passion with their neighbor.”

Pfaff mentioned one project where at-risk families knitted gift packages of entire outfits for infants born into a drug environment.

“These families socialize, make friends, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries,” he said. “In a hard economy, you need a place to be able to go and help people simply by being yourself.”

A GoodNeighbor Block Party also is planned July 25 at Goodwill, 6512 Manatee Ave. W.

“We’re hoping to have classes daily and evenings,” said James Heaton, a VISTA GoodNeighbor volunteer there.

For more details on Saturday’s event at DeSoto Junction Goodwill, visit www.discovergoodwill.com, or call 827-0064.

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