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Family can't afford Christmas tree

READ MORE: Family can't afford Christmas tree
WILMINGTON -- A New Hanover County man who was recently laid off from his job is upset over how he was treated when he went to a local charity to buy a Christmas tree for his family. Not only did he leave empty handed, he says he felt insulted. It's been a rough few weeks for David Shepherd and his family. He lost his job as a painter and has barely had enough money to feed his wife and three girls, much less buy them a Christmas tree. So he went to the Goodwill Community Foundation hoping to find a deal. Shepherd said, "I explained to her that I had X amount of dollars to purchase this tree, but I did not have enough for what they were asking for this tree Before I could even get finished, she cut me off and said, 'Well we don't do that, that's against our policy.'" Shepherd said he only had $15, half the amount he needed to purchase the $30 tree. While he was willing to spend all he had, he said the GCF employee wouldn't negotiate and even told him anyone could come up with a sob story around the holidays. "It just upset me because she just blatantly cut me off, and more or less called me a liar." Shepherd said he was humiliated, and his youngest daughter left the store in tears. "I had to try to explain to her why we couldn't get a tree, and it's hard to explain to a five-year-old that daddy don't have enough money." Good Community Foundation Director Stephen Snyderman says he regrets the situation wasn't handled more tactfully, but says GCF doesn't negotiate on price. "The manager or any employee doesn't have the authority to lower the price upon request, that wouldn't be fair to the other customers, it's not a negotiation process," Snyderman said. Snyderman says GCF uses the money it makes in the thrift store to provide jobs and training to people with disabilities or other employment obstacles. While he regrets GCF wasn't able to help the Shephards, he says it is helping train 174 students in New Hanover County make a better life for themselves. Snyderman said, "Sometimes we're confused with the Salvation Army and other organizations that do provide disaster relief for emergencies and other personal services, and that's not our mission." While GCF can't help this particular family our managers here at NewsChannel 3 have agreed to purchase the Shephards a Christmas tree. We hope to meet up with them a little later this week to go tree shopping.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Christmas Tree

I will never EVER donate to Good Will again... That behavior is NOT GOOD WILL, It's Bad business and blatent disregard to the feelings of other humans. I've seen this behavior. They look at you like you are the only Freak in the world, like a "motor vehicle" workers type of "customer service"... (we all know what that feels like) Shame on you Goodwill, the least you could do is recommend him WITH A SMILE elsewhere.

I'm sure you only put on

I'm sure you only put on your tax return the exact items and cost for the things you donate. Give me a break. This guy was asking to drop the price in half. If they do it for this guy, what about the next, or the next, or the one after that? Where does it stop. I'm sure he could of asked friends for $15.


I always donate anything I'm not using any more (clothes, furniture, etc.) to Goodwill or some other similar place that accepts donations. I tried to donate several pieces of furniture to this particular Goodwill a few months ago. One of the couches was not in very good shape, but some of the other furniture I was going to donate was in excellent shape. The employee at Goodwill came outside, took one glance at the "ugly" couch and said he didn't want anything I was donating and that it was all crap and that he would absolutely not accept any of it and just kept pointing at the furniture and shaking his head and saying "no one could use this." Mind you, this was furniture that I had been using in my house, so not only was the employee insulting me, but he made a scene in front of other people who were around as well. After this incident, I will NEVER donate to Goodwill again. Now I take all of my donations to Vintage Values in Monkey Junction - they are always extremely polite and thank me for my donation!

Needs a Christmas Tree???

I just wonder about all the things you hear on the news and what people's motives are sometimes. I'm sure he has all the trees he needs by now and then some. First of all if this guy is out of a job and has a family to care for he should be more concerned about putting food on the table than having a Christmas tree. If he was willing to pay his last $15.00 for a tree then he really does need help!! True it's hard to say no to your children sometimes but it's harder to say no to "food" than a Christmas tree. Life has a lot of disappointments and the sooner we all learn that the better off we are. It's a shame that people try to trash these companies unjustly. Goodwill does do a lot for the community and helps the needy by just being there.

Boo Friggin Hoo. Lets look a

Boo Friggin Hoo. Lets look a little deeper into WHY this man lost his job? WHY isn't he find another? WHY are we crucifying an EMPLOYEE for not giving away merchandise their company paid for because some schlup hasn't bettered himself beyond being a Painter with 3 children to feed, who felt the need to beg for a free handout and when he didn't get his way he went crying to anyone who would listen. Be a MAN, stop whining to the local news about your pathetic situation. You made your bed, now lie in it.

OMG guest buckets,,

You have got to be the worst human on this planet!!!Do you know this individual that is even in this story? I bet if it were you who were out of a job and you had children looking up at you wondering where their tree was, you would be doing the same thing this man is. I can't believe that you could be soooo cold hearted. I bet your parents are really proud of the kid they raised. Your mom should beat you with the ugly stick. I bet you were raised with a silver spoon stuck in your mouth, pull it out and get a life!!!

It sounds heartless but I agree

Look let's face it, if this man got fired from being a painter he hasn't really set the world on fire. I've had a few setbacks in life but I've taken less than desirable jobs to makes ends meet, get back on my feet, keep food, the lights and rent paid. After I recover I get back into a more desirable job. I mean you can't tell me that burger joints aren't hiring. You do what you have to do when you have to do it.

Don't stop giving

I think that the people that have written about not giving to the GCF anymore are taking this a bit too far. Regardless of how much the owners make, the attitude of this employee, etc. Goodwill has been around a very long time and has helped numerous families and individuals. Do I think they handled this situation poorly, yes, but all of us have experienced this type of treatment at sometime or's just not reported on These situations teach us and our children. There are other options available for a $15 christmas tree, you might just have to wait until just before christmas or until after...and you'll have one for next year. Christmas isn't about trees or presents. On another note...I feel like this troubleshooters broadcast has become the better business bureau complaint department. Are we really helping these people solve problems or are we just fueling business complaints?

co sign

co sign

Goodwill doesnt care!

Goodwill doesn't care about helping people, they are a for profit business- I will never ever donate anything to their organization. From now on donate your items to Vintage Values, they are non profit all the money raised goes towards helping those at the Domestic Violence Shelter and other "helping" organizations that actually care about the people in the community.

It seems that rudeness is

It seems that rudeness is the norm there. I use to go there on a regular basis to drop off clothing and toys but after being treated rudely I have found other ways to give to those less fortunate. Shame on you folks.


Wow this story really opened my eyes about Goodwill. I guess that just goes to show that when I make donations, I might want to research the organization a little better. I will find somewhere else that takes donations, and that people who have a true need for such items can get them.


It is ashame this man was treated this way. Its that time of the year when I clean out my Closet and I know I will not take my items to the "Good"will. I dont know why the goodwill would have a tree marked for $30 anyway when you can go to BigLots and buy a brandnew one for $40.00. The goodwill is supose to be for the needy. Shows what they are really there for!

Goodwill is not for the

Goodwill is not for the needy they provide employment and educational opportunites.

christmas tree

ihave a suggestion-look up it is a website devoted to selling goods locally somewhat like an online flea market. you do not have to bid on things like ebay. its just local folks wanting to sell things like a big garage sale online. i saw some terrific Christmas trees on sale cheap when i looked a couple of days ago.

Good Will Christmas Tree

My heart goes out to this family. I have made donations to GCF for the last 20 years but last year was the last. I will not make any more donations to GCF. Is there any way we can help this family?

They can't afford a tree?

How is it then that they can afford a color TV with cable, and to pay the electric bill for that aquarium and the lights he was stringing? Sounds more like "We want it all" instead of "We need a tree." Yes, it would have been difficult to explain to those children that there would be no tree this year. But do you know what? That might have been the best present they could ever receive. It would have built character, and made then stronger, more independent as they grew. Instead, they will be receiving a quick crash course in a problem that's gradually bankrupting this nation: You never have to face any adversity, any hardship, or any shortage based upon your current economic state. If you need something, nay, simply WANT something, you don't have to budget or set priorities. It's someone else's responsibility to provide it for you. You deserve it all. It's the same mindset that says, "The government should pay for my healthcare because with the size of the payments on my new car, I can't afford to pay for it myself." I sincerely hope that you do get back on your feet financially soon. But you and WWAY are denying an important "life lesson" to these children - sometimes we all go through rough times, have to face them, and have to get through them. Sometimes life isn't fun. If we are continually helped over the obstacle course, we never learn to run the obstacle course.

I completely agree with

I completely agree with Uncle Reality!!! Uncle Reality in 2008!!!

Uncle Reality for President!

To Uncle Reality - I have never agreed with someone more in my life!! I make a good living (42K), own a home in a different state (that won't sell) and married someone who is quite useless (we have since separated)... I made my bed and am lying in it!! I flipped when my ex decorated her house like the White House for Christmas but had not gotten an oil change for her car in one year! Or she won't address the useless cell phone she owns (the only vital communication method she has) but will spend a night drinking at area clubs. All the while, I'm calculating (as I start over by myself) whether I can afford Christmas lights this year. Guess what? I can't. Boo-friggin-hoo. I made my bed, and although it may not be comfy at times, it's my bed and I'm lying in it!! Uncle Reality needs to clone himself 50 times over and run for legislature throughout this country. Maybe a collective effort to pull the silver spoon out of America's mouth will wake the free-loading, free-seeking brats up!

We're cold but true...

It's true. As sympathetic as many of the folks here are, the fact is this individual lost his job and now claims to have $15 to his hame. He claims he went to Goodwill and was treated rudely. He claims they didn't make a special exception for HIM and his family and reduce a price on a Christmas tree. Goodwill, and the Salvation Army for that matter, ARE NOT in the negotiation business. You want negotiations? Go to a Yard Sale. Buy from the Classified ads. I had a friend that worked at Goodwill years ago. I mentioned to someone on the bus that I knew that person. They went in to Goodwill and said they talked to me and though the employee was going to discount them. That's not what I meant to happen, but the employee/friend was unhappy with be that it happened because they aren't allowed to do that. Go ask Wal-Mart if they will take pity on you and reduce their prices. Not going to happen. And, as pointed out, many individuals who can't get jobs elsewhere are being employeed by Goodwill at VERY LOW incomes. Do the people here want to take from THEIR mouths just to satisfy someone on TV? He only has #15 left. He should forego the Christmas Tree in his home and save it for the things he NEEDS. Sometimes it takes a long time to get a new job. Yes, people will see our attitudes as cold because of the time of year. Maybe those folks need to abide by The Truth, The WHOLE Truth, and Nothing But The Truth more often than what they are. I could make a number of speculations of my own regarding this story and this family, but what purpose would it serve in regards to the Truth? Andrew

Andrew, Steve, and everyone

Andrew, Steve, and everyone here..... WHEN did it become OUR PLACE to JUDGE? It is not, there is only one true Judge, and we will ALL meet Him one day. No matter how I feel, I was raised TO DO RIGHT BY OTHERS..... and I will. We all bleed the same color, when is everyone going to realize that and LOVE THY BROTHER. Be glad there are still people unwilling to STEP OVER a STARVING MAN just to make it to a DINNER PARTY on time. Everyone will have bad days, get into situations where they need help, and that is where the rest of us come in. DO UNTO OTHERS.......

He asked to be judged

You don't stage a whine-a-thon for the press, claiming how bad things are, while you're stringing Christmas lights and watching cable TV. Don't want to be judged? Manage your own life and don't be depending upon strangers to do it for you. I'm about fed up with this "Who are we to judge" nonsense! Stay out of the public spotlight and no one will judge you!

You are a Grinch. (and

You are a Grinch. (and that's the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth)Those babies should have a Christmas tree.


I'm proud to be a Grinch if it means that, instead of Christmas trees, those kids have food, warmth, a roof over their heads, and all the necessities they need, not only for a few days, but for the months to come while he looks for a job. Who's more of a Grinch? The one who says save the money for the necessities or the one who would rather have the kid go "Daddy, I feel sick, I'm hungry"? Andrew

You're a mean one Mr.

You're a mean one Mr. Grinch..........

Response to "they can't afford a tree:"

I agree 100% We have become a nation of whiners and, as a nation, we have very little character anymore. We have this "entitlement" mindset. I've had money and I've had no money. I saw this piece on television this morning and this man acted as though someone kicked his dog. No one "owes" us anything! If he had the same attitude talking to the GWI folks as he did when he was being interviewed, I'd show him the door.

Shame on Goodwill

Wow, that is rather enlightening. I can honestly say I won't donate anything to goodwill. 174 families? Stretching themselves thin on finances (being sarcastic by the way)? I sent them a rather lengthy letter expressing some serious dissatisfaction. Please let me know how we can help this family? Shame that a company cannot help the average family that they say they focus on.


That is such a shame. I will definetly think twice before ever donating my items there again. There are plenty of other organizations that are of better help to the community Im sure. I see another person who commented asked about how to pitch in for this families Christmas. I am curious myself because although I may not have a lot to give I would certainly do more than the Goodwill. Everyone deserves to have a Merry Christmas.

Re: Family can't afford Christmas Tree

I know this is the unpopular opinion and the only one to go against the others, however I agree with the decision that Goodwill made. (Hear me out!) This operation is a business and the goal of business is to make money (whether that money goes to Charity or not.) Had this gentleman walked into Wal-Mart and offered $15 for a $30 toy for one of his daughters for Christmas, he would have received the same outcome. That being said, the Goodwill handled the situation completely wrong. The staff and management should have additional resources at their disposal to point the man in the correct direction where he could get a tree for FREE. At this time of year, we all need to help out those down on their luck, but it is not the responsibility of business alone. It takes donations from the general public. Had the Goodwill been funded differently and more adequately, maybe they WOULD have policies and procedures to bargain price with customers at this time of year. Unfortunately, however, they are not set up for that at this time.

Family can't afford tree

You know its ashame that during this time of giving how can a company like GWI not help. That is because their Chairman makes around a 100,000.00 a year this does not include all the other people on the board. Lets see we donate Items to them then they sell them to other people and They say they are helping 174 families in this area get an education. I know they say that these people which I am sure needs help wouldn't have minded if GWI gave them a tree. I also wonder if the trees that GWI recieved were donated to them. Shame on the staff for not offering to pitch in to help this man and child. Greed, Greed, Greed.THANK YOU WWAY FOR CARING ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY. I WILL CONTINUALLY WATCH YOUR STATION.