Shoppers of the Menomonee Falls Goodwill unphased by scare

Aug. 11, 2014

Menomonee Falls — It was business as usual at the Goodwill Menomonee Falls store Aug. 7. The morning after a grenade-like device was found in a donation to the store, shoppers seemed relatively unphased by the scare the day before.

"These things happen," Morgan Finke said as she browsed the shoe section over an early lunch hour. "It doesn't mean I'm going to stop supporting their mission. Where would I get my flip flops?"

Other shoppers hadn't even heard of the incident, which prompted the evacuation of employees and customers after employees called the Menomonee Falls Police Department to investigate a mysterious object at about 8:45 a.m. Aug. 6.

That is exactly how Goodwill spokeswoman Cheryl Lightholder said she hoped customers would respond to the incident, one which she said staff takes very seriously, as infrequently as it does happen.

"The fact that employees erred on the side of caution is protocol around here," she said. "This was a very serious situation ... safety of our employees and shoppers alike is always of utmost priority."

The bomb squad safely destroyed the item at a safe location away from the store and found that it was not an explosive device.

"Donations are such an important part of what Goodwill does," Lightholder said. "We get 3.2 million donor transactions annually, so to have an incident like this occur only occasionally is pretty good."

As the object was in a box amid other items including stuffed animals, books and clothing, Lightholder said it's important donors examine what they donate before dropping it off. A knife and ammunition casing were also found in the box, but Lightholder said it's unlikely the donor knew what was inside. Either way, police said they are interested in finding the person who donated the item, if just to remind them to be mindful of their donations in the future.

"Most likely someone put it in the box and forgot about it," Lightholder said, adding that in her 27 years with the company, this is her only recollection of an incident at the Menomonee Falls location. "I guess I would just say how much we appreciate donations to our mission but encourage donors to be aware of what they're donating."

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