MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated $5 million to Goodwill Gulf Coast, marking the largest single financial gift in the group’s history.
“It’s the largest in our history by a long shot,” Goodwill Gulf Coast President and CEO Frank Harkins said. “We’re very grateful.”
Harkins said he knows of no connection between Scott and the areas of Southwest Alabama and Northwest Florida the group serves. He said the organization got a call from a third party before receiving the gift.
“It was huge,” he said.
Goodwill Gulf Coast provides education, workforce training and other services to roughly 11,000 individuals each year in seven Alabama counties and three Florida counties, Harkins said.
“Most people think of us as a thrift store, but we’re much more than a thrift store,” he said. “We do workforce development for the community and pre-COVID prepared 600 individuals with jobs. With COVID this year, we’ve reduced that number to about 425.”
In addition, the organization provides financial literacy training and income tax help for the public, as well as pre-school education through its Child Development Center in Spring Hill, Harkins said. Goodwill Gulf Coast has also provided medical equipment to 3,000 individuals.
The pandemic had a negative impact on the organization, Harkins said, as the facility had to close for some 40 days.
“It was a huge blow financially to all of us,” he said.
As for what it will do with the Scott donation, Harkins said the volunteer board is still working on a plan.
“We were not expecting this,” he said. “We’ll be coming up with a plan to maximize the use of the money. It’s a blessing and we should treat it as such.”
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