Goodwill employees make American flags for families of deceased veterans

MIAMI (WSVN) - The American flag is a top item for the Fourth of July holiday — those who make them are sharing how it’s done and why it means so much to them.

“July Fourth is important because many times people come to us looking for their own independence and an opportunity for hope and jobs, and that’s what we do here,” said Goodwill’s Vice President of Marketing, Lourdes De La Mata.

Many things go into making your Independence Day special. Sunshine, barbecues, beaches, fireworks, and of course — the good old stars and stripes, but these American flags are made with their own special glory.

“I think that a lot of people that work here have a lot of pride,” said De La Mata. “Not only to work for Goodwill industries but, more importantly, because they’re working on the flag, which again is a great symbol of our freedom and independence, which is something that they’re working on personally.”

The Goodwill Flag Center is located at Northwest 21st Street and 22nd Avenue and creates about 600 flags a day for the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Each flag is made with nearly 100-year-old embroidery machines, by over 900 Goodwill employees with disabilities, and if you ask these employees, they will tell you just how much pride they take in their work.

“It’s a good job and good work,” said Goodwill employee, Francisco. “It’s very nice.”

Each flag is made with extreme attention to detail. Every one of the 13 stripes must be exactly four-and-a-half inches wide and all of the 50 embroidered stars have to be exactly 3.3 inches in diameter.

When placed on a table, the flag must lie flat with no pleats or any loose threads protruding.

“They’re very important flags,” said De La Mata. “These are the interment flags. You can tell by the fabric — they’re cotton. These are the ones that folded up into triangles and then presented to the families of the veterans who passed away, so it is a very special flag.”

Due to the quality of work being put out by the Goodwill Flag Center and its employees, the center is planning on hiring an additional 125 employees with disabilities to work on producing military uniforms.

Goodwill is one of the top 20 employers in Miami. Part of the nonprofit’s mission is training and employing people with disabilities to help them get on their way to greater independence.

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