Goodwill Industries says its mission is to help people, but sometimes there’s a limit on how much good will is enough.
When an employee at Goodwill’s store in Naples, Fla., started handing out freelance discounts to the shops poorest customers, Goodwill not only fired the young man, the company called the cops and now has him up on felony theft charges.
"I wasn't actually stealing,” 19-year-old Andrew Anderson told TV station WBBH. “Goodwill is a giving and helping company, so I took it upon to myself to be giving and helping because I feel people deserve it.”
Anderson worked behind the counter at the Naples Goodwill outlet. He would often see the community’s poorest people come into the store, looking to buy clothes but with only a few bucks to their name.
"My heart was in the right place, my head was in the wrong place," Anderson told the TV station.
Most second-hand clothes and other items sold by Goodwill were donated to the company for free.
When his compassion got the better of his judgments, he would simply cut prices in half, then watch the delight on the faces of underprivileged people and families as they were actually able to afford to buy clothes for themselves and their kids.
"It makes you feel amazing, makes you feel like that you can actually be the person to help them," said the ex-clerk
His bosses at the charitable organization didn’t feel very amazing about Anderson’s one-man half-off sale.
"Our stores are not around to give a hand out, they're around to give people a hand up by providing funding," said Goodwill Spojesperson Kirstin O'Donnel. "In incidents like this, we always prosecute and the reason why is when people steal from Goodwill, they're not stealing from the company, they're stealing from the mission of our organization."
But not everyone in Naples thinks Goodwill is doing any good by their hardline stance.
"He shouldn't be let go, especially when you think you're doing something right in your heart," said Naples resident Judy Shaffer.
“They should've sat him down and explained to him what he was doing wrong instead of firing him." said another, Dale Shaffer.
While Goodwill on its own web site pledges, “We treat all people with dignity and respect,” the company had little respect for Anderson. Goodwill is pressing grand theft charges against him, even though he’s not accused of taking any property or money for his own use.
"I'm not a bad person, what I did was with all good intentions," Anderson declares.
SOURCES: WBBH TV Naples, Goodwill Industries