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Goodwill at the White House

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By Laura Newman

Sue Etheridge, a regular shopper at Goodwill stores in Raleigh, doesn’t just wear her purchases around the home or office, she also wears them to the White House.

For the past four years, Etheridge has volunteered at the White House for about two weeks around Thanksgiving to decorate Christmas trees.

At the end of the project, when First Lady Laura Bush holds a reception for the volunteers, Etheridge always wears a suit she has bought from Goodwill.

“Last year, it was a really gorgeous suit,” Etheridge says. “And even though I only spent $6 on it, I think I spent more money than Mrs. Bush, since she probably had hers donated to her.”

After she wears the items, Etheridge makes it a point to re-donate them to Goodwill.

When she re-donated her suit last year, she included a photograph of herself and Mrs. Bush.

Etheridge says Goodwill is her favorite place to shop.

“It’s like guilt-free shopping,” she says.  “You can shop for the entertainment value and anything you admire, you can afford.”

In addition to the pleasure it brings her, Etheridge says, she also considers it a part of her profession to wear as many different outfits as possible.

As an art therapist at the federal prison hospital, she tries to bring “visual interest” to the inmates, who don’t see anything new on a daily basis other than the employees’ clothing.

Etheridge also feels it is important to bridge the gap between social classes.

“I think that in places of power they need to know how the other half lives,” she says.

Etheridge soon will begin looking for another suit to wear to the White House, and says she already is eagerly awaiting the extravagant ornaments she will use to decorate this season’s White House Christmas trees.

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