Our History

Goodwill Industries of Central Florida was founded in 1959, through the efforts of a local advocacy group working to increase job opportunities for people with disabilities. Soon afterward, we opened our first Retail Store, in the heart of downtown Orlando's Church Street Station.

Over the years, our presence has expanded with new stores and online shopping, but our purpose has remained the same: providing tools that help people overcome barriers to employment and find meaningful work.

1959-1969
1970-1979
1980-1990
1991-2000
2001-2008
2009-2012
2013-2014
2014-2015

Click on a year or slide the blue button to view details.

Our Legacy

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Rev. Edgar Helms

Goodwill was founded in 1902 by Rev. Edgar Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of "a hand up, not a handout," was born.

Dr. Helms' vision set an early course for what today has become a $5 billion nonprofit organization. Helms described Goodwill Industries as an "industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted."

Today, Goodwill continues the legacy begun by Rev. Helms – offering employment services in communities across the United States through a network of Retail Stores and Donation Xpress Centers.

Goodwill 100 Year Anniversary Video: Goodwill Industries 100 Years, 5 million Lives 

did you know

Goodwill offers online shopping! Visit shopgoodwill.com to browse clothes, books, décor, collectibles and other great finds from our Retail Stores all over the country.

Online shopping
did you know

Goodwill offers online shopping! Visit shopgoodwill.com to browse clothes, books, décor, collectibles and other great finds from our Retail Stores all over the country.

Online shopping