A 19-year-old employee at Goodwill Retail and Donation Center in East Naples, Florida was arrested for giving out discounts to customers in need. The teenager, Andrew Anderson, didn’t pocket a single dime, but simply cut prices for customers he believed desperately needed it. When store officials discovered what Anderson was doing, they fired him and had him arrested. He was then charged with grand theft.
Anderson was willing to pay back the money that Goodwill estimates he gave away within the two week period, but Goodwill refused his offer. This situation calls for a question of ethics and intent. Anderson is facing a felony charge at 19 years of age for wanting to help those in need at a business that promotes goodwill and good deeds. While his intentions were moral, they weren’t in the best economic interests of the non-profit organization. But instead of prosecuting a teenager, Goodwill should instead use the news to make light of their positive mission instead of soiling their image as a non-profit to further humanity.
Anderson describes his frame of mind when he handed out discounts at his former workplace.
"People would come in on bicycles, wearing all of the clothes they had, coming in with $2, $3 max," Anderson said.
"I wasn't actually stealing. Goodwill is a giving and helping company, so I took it upon myself to be giving and helping because I feel people deserve it," he further added.
Well, his upstanding ethics and giving attitude landed him in the Collier County jail. This is quite an extreme measure of punishment given Anderson's purpose wasn't to commit a crime. He was unaware of store policies on the matter, and his mistake was not checking in with his supervisor before handing out discounts to those in need.
Store officials don't really care where his heart was at the time.
"Our stores are not around to give a hand out, they're around to give people a hand up by providing funding," said Kirstin O'Donnell, a spokesperson for Goodwill's Retail and Donation Center.
O’Donnell is definitely correct, but should Anderson really have a felony charge for misunderstanding store guidelines and policy, and not communicating prior to the incident? It's appalling that Goodwill doesn't better prepare its workforce for topics like discounts, considering they hire teenagers. Undergoing some type of employee training program would be far more reasonable and fair for someone in Anderson’s situation.
"My heart was in the right place, my head was in the wrong place," Anderson said.
Unfortunately, now both his heart and head might be behind bars.