If cleaning out your closet or garage and donating unwanted items to charity is on your to-do list, you have just a few more days to claim your donation...

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If cleaning out your closet or garage and donating unwanted items to charity is on your to-do list, you have just a few more days to claim your donation as a tax deduction.

One of the best-known charities in this area is Seattle Goodwill, which operates 13 thrift stores and 24 donation centers in King, Snohomish, Skagit, Kitsap and Whatcom counties. Seattle Goodwill accepts donations of slightly used clothing, shoes, housewares, books, toys and electronics. The organization’s flagship Seattle store at 1400 S. Lane St. also accepts used vehicles.

The sale of donated goods helps support education and job-training programs.

Donors get a receipt for the estimated value of their donations, which can be deducted by those who itemize expenses. This is the last year donors may immediately deduct the estimated market value of a donated vehicle from their taxes.

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Information about Goodwill’s donation centers is online at www.seattlegoodwill.org, or call 877-GIVE4GOOD (877-448-3446).


Signs of the season


Argosy Cruises’ Christmas ship, Spirit of Seattle, is nearing the end of its holiday run. Tonight, the ship and its decorated flotilla will be on Lake Washington, leaving from the Kirkland city dock at 7 p.m. It passes Mercer Island’s Luther Burbank Park about 7:50 p.m. before cruising to the Madrona area on the west side of the lake about 8:40 p.m. From there it returns to Kirkland at 9:40 p.m.

Tomorrow, the festival’s final run, the ship will again leave Kirkland at 7 p.m. and head to Portage Bay, then to Seattle’s Gas Works Park before returning to Kirkland just after 10 p.m.

On board the Christmas Ship, which is decorated with hundreds of white lights, choirs perform holiday music that is broadcast over loudspeakers to shore.

A good place to take in the sights and sounds of the flotilla is at community bonfires. There will be bonfires tonight at Luther Burbank Park and Madrona Park, and tomorrow at Gas Works Park.

The Christmas Ship has been a Northwest tradition for 55 years.


Holiday helpers


Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s Men’s Shelter, 318 Second Ave. Extension S., will serve free meals to the homeless on Christmas. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 8:30 a.m., and free ham dinners at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.


Getting around


The state ferry system will begin its winter schedule on Sunday — the day after Christmas — with seasonal cuts or changes in service.

Weekend service for the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route will change as service is decreased from three vessels to two. There also will be several changes to Anacortes-San Juan Island routes, and during the winter there will be no service between Anacortes and Sidney, B.C.

The winter schedule will be in effect through March 19. Schedules are available at all ferry terminals, at local libraries and on the Washington State Ferries’ Web site: www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

Here & Now is compiled by Seattle Times staff reporter Charles E. Brown and news assistant Suesan Whitney Henderson. To submit an item, e-mail herenow@seattletimes.com

or call 206-464-2226.