FORT WORTH -- Generous people donate about 20 million pounds of goods to Goodwill Industries every year. Many of those items are used furniture, clothes and everyday household appliances.
But some gifts are strange, rare or flat-out scary.
Take, for example, the Goodwill worker who was quietly sorting donated items until he came upon a light blue suitcase. He flipped it open, discovered what looked like a mummified human leg and promptly fainted.
"Luckily, that turned out to be artificial," said David Cox, a senior vice president at Goodwill. "But some things just make us step back and say 'Wow.'"
Goodwill receives enough bizarre items that officials have created what they call their "rogues' gallery." Goodwill updates and showcases the gallery in a lighthearted effort to draw attention to how it utilizes gently used donations and helps disabled people through employment.
In the gallery, you'll find a golf club encased in rattlesnake skin, a pig fetus in a bottle and an anatomically detailed statue of a fertility god.
You will also find a large piranha lacquered and mounted on wood, a 5-foot walking stick topped with a wooden skull and a glass-encased diorama of stuffed birds.
Workers sort donations at Goodwill's large facility in south Fort Worth. It's these workers who found themselves handling a live grenade, requiring a police bomb squad to come and disarm it. It's also where they discovered a live bunny in a cage that was left in the drop-off area.
"We find some crazy, crazy things," said Nellie Barker, a material handler. "You wonder what some people are thinking."
Cox said donors might not always realize exactly what they are handing over. More than once, workers have found someone's cremated remains. Goodwill gives ashes to funeral homes to dispose of properly, he said.
Cremated remains of pets have also found their way into Goodwill donation boxes, he said.
Each item no doubt has an interesting story. Why did someone decorate a lamp with the severed heads and limbs of dolls? What child once loved the doll with lip, nose and ear piercings? And from whose mouth was the bag of human teeth plucked?
Goodwill appreciates each donation, no matter how strange, Cox said. Some of the items will wind up for sale in one of the organization's 19 retail stores. Other items may find their way to recycling centers. But all the donations help fund Goodwill's mission, he said.
Believe it or not, many of the bizarre items will eventually sell, he said.
"One man's trash is another man's treasure," he said.
Alex Branch, 817-390-7689