ALI honored to receive $2,000 donation!

Assistance League of Irvine is honored to be the recipient of a Honda Corporation “Helpful After the Holidays” donation of $2,000 to help clothe Irvine’s children in need. The funds were used to purchase school clothing and supplies through AL Irvine’s Operation School Bell® program, which will serve nearly 800 income-qualified students this academic year.

Four Helpful Honda representatives joined AL Irvine volunteers Feb. 3 at Target North in Irvine for an Operation School Bell shopping event. Students, accompanied by their parents, selected school-appropriate clothing, shoes and a jacket. Students also received a backpack and a hygiene kit prepared by AL Irvine’s teen auxiliary, Assisteens.

“We were absolutely thrilled to receive the donation,” said Jill Housky, AL Irvine president. “Purchasing school clothing, including shoes and a jacket, averages $100 per child. The Honda donation will allow us to clothe even more students from low- and extremely-low income families living in Irvine.”

To learn more about our programs, please visit


Previously loved!

By Marta Mahoney

My son bought a used motorcycle last year, and he refers to it not as “previously owned,” but as “previously loved.”

That’s a good description for our merchandise at the ALI thrift store! It was all “previously loved” by someone who wanted it to go to a new home, instead of the trash bin. (Even those pants you found that still have the original price tag on them. The pants can’t help it that the person who loved them in the store put them in the back of their closet, and forgot they were there.)

People donate “previously loved” items to us for all kinds of reasons. The kids grow out of those baby outfits and turn into toddlers. Bigger kids go off to college and leave you with bins of toy cars. You change jobs, or you retire, and you have a closetful of clothing that you’ll never wear again. You’re no longer in your twenties, and you can’t wear 4-inch heels. You loved your fondue pot/pasta machine/food processor for many years, but your diet and cooking style have changed. You came in the thrift shop and found some fantastic holiday decorations, but there’s only so much room in the storage unit, so some of the old ones have to come back to the shop. We could go on and on.

Visit us soon and find some “previously loved” items that want to go home with you to be loved some more!

Can you guess how much a super bowl commercial costs?

Did you watch the Super Bowl last weekend? And did you watch the Super Bowl commercials?

I read that the cost of a Super Bowl commercial this year was $5,000,000 per minute. That’s $83,333 per second! To put that in perspective, ALI’s annual budget for Operation School Bell is about $112.000.

As you readers know, Operation School Bell is our largest community program. Through OSB, we provide school clothing and school supplies to low-income students in the Irvine School District. Last school yea,r we helped 750 students through this program.

You can do the math. $112,000 would buy one and 1/3 seconds of commercial time during the Super Bowl. If you blinked twice, you’d miss that 1 and 1/3 seconds. But you couldn’t miss the smiles on the faces of those 750 kids who got new backpacks and school clothes for the same price.

You can see those smiles, too, and you don’t even need a cable box – just come and join us at ALI. Visit our website at, or contact us at to find out more about our community programs and how you can help.

3 Thrift Shop Gift Ideas for Valentines Day!

I know there’s a book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” but there are times when it’s ALL ABOUT the small stuff. Like Valentine’s Day!

Now I assume that since you’re reading a blog about a thrift store, you’re probably not a person who plans to give their true love a Porsche for Valentine’s Day. (Even if you are, read on.). So what are the three most common gifts on Valentine’s Day? Flowers, candy, and jewelry. And here’s where the SMALL STUFF comes in. Those little details that (with the help of the ALI thrift shop) will be the finishing touch to your gift.

FLOWERS: You’ll need something to put the flowers IN. We always have a fantastic selection of vases and containers, ranging from ornate crystal to simple and modern.

CANDY: Include a little dish or plate for the candy. We have lots of VALENTINE-THEMED dishes right now, but hurry in because these sell out quickly.

JEWELRY: We have all kinds of beautiful costume jewelry – necklaces, rings, earrings – that would make a romantic Valentine’s gift in a SMALL box.

And not only will we help you find the small stuff that will make your Valentine’s gift unique -you’ll only pay a SMALL price for whatever you buy at the thrift shop! Come in and shop with us soon!


Welcome to 2018! Right now you may be looking at your credit card statement and thinking, “I am never going to shop again.” We get it! Holiday shopping is overwhelming! You want to spend January sitting on the couch watching PBS because there are NO commercials for things to buy (except the pledge drive, and that boxed set of the entire run of “Downton Abbey” that they’re going to send you doesn’t really count).

But you can’t sit on your couch all month, so venture out to the ALI thrift shop. Shopping with us is more like a treasure hunt than a buying expedition. FOR EXAMPLE, I was at the shop today and I bought:

– A plastic storage bin to replace a cardboard box full of old school papers that’s falling apart.
– A giant rubber duck that’s going to be a present for some friends with a pool.
– An antique book that’s a history of England, published in 1791!

And I COULD have come away with many more treasures – a St. John knit jacket, a corkscrew and wine stopper set made of inlaid wood, some silver dangly earrings with gorgeous purple stones, or a set of plates with lighthouses on them.

You never know what you’re going to find at the thrift shop, and that’s the half fun of shopping with us. The other half is getting to meet our cheerful and enthusiastic volunteers, who will be just as excited by your finds as you are. Stop in soon and let us help you find some treasures of your own!

I’m ‘Not Shopping’ – no really….

Today’s story is about . . . Not shopping. Notice we didn’t say “Never shopping.” This IS, however, a story about the ALI thrift store. We WANT you to come in and shop with us. (We’d especially like some readers to come in and buy all those winter coats and ski jackets that people donated to us after their once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the snow in Big Bear.)

But you don’t need to shop 24 hours a day. This is the holiday season of Christmas and Hanukkah, and even if you’re not particularly religious, a time to take stock of where you are in life as the new year approaches. “Not shopping” means spending time during the holidays with your family, your friends, and those in need of help. “Not shopping” means reaching out to others with love and attention, letting them know you’re glad they’re a part of your life. It means spending a morning serving meals at a homeless shelter, instead of endlessly circling the parking lot at the mall. It means simply taking a long walk along the beach, or on one of Irvine’s urban trails, and reflecting on the beauty of the natural world.

We know you’ll still be looking for that perfect gift (which is why you need to come to the thrift store), but try to make “not shopping” part of your holidays this year.

It’s ‘THAT’ week! Are you ready?

It’s time to put on your shopping shoes, pull out your map of the mall, and start counting down to November 24 and 25th. Yes, it’s THAT WEEK – Black Friday and Small Business Saturday! Bargains, sales, and merchandising mayhem!
And OF COURSE you have to make a stop at the ALI thrift store while you’re out and about on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday! On Black Friday, we’ll have our weekly specials, which are ALREADY way below anything you’ll pay at the mall. On Small Business Saturday, we have a FANTASTIC offer for you – 25% off your ENTIRE PURCHASE OVER $20 (with some exceptions for some of our special items).
No 3 am Doorbusters, but that means you can get up at a sensible hour and have a few leisurely cups of coffee before heading over to the thrift shop. We’ll be open our regular hours, 10 am to 5:30 pm on Friday, and 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday. And if you just can’t face shopping on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, we’re open as usual on Wednesday the 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, from 10 am to 3 pm.

Best wishes to our readers for a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends, from all of us here at the Assistance League of Irvine.