SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– It’s no surprise 2020 was a tough year for businesses and organizations.

But, Goodwill said it’s still receiving a significant amount of donations and visits to the stores, allowing them to continue one of its programs – helping adults complete high school.

Shamanique Blakey is a student at Mers Goodwill’s Excel Center. Blakey is on her way to receiving her high school diploma free of charge thanks to the non-profit.

“I started this program in the shelter and I’ve moved from the shelter to my own place now,” Blakey said.

Along with getting the diploma, Blakey also said she’s gained employment.

“Not only am I going to school through them, but I got my job through them,” Blakey said. “I work at Arby’s, been there for eight months now.”

Blakey said she has a new lease on life.

“I plan to go to college, I want to do computer programming,” Blakey said.

Programs like this one continue to exist thanks to Goodwill’s retail stores.

“While places closed down, people had the opportunity to clean out their garages and attics in their homes, so we really had a nice surge in donations,” store manager Lynne Harmon said. “All the money we make goes to help people, one of the things I like is we help people just like us.”

Harmon said the store is helping people who may have lost income due to the pandemic.

Goodwill’s Excel Center provides a free drop-in center for child care, transportation assistance, extended hours and year-round operation to support students as they work toward the goal of earning a diploma.