SKIP THE SUPPLEMENTS – VOLUNTEER!

The headline for an article in the June 2017 issue of the AARP Magazine read, “Planning to Live to 100? Volunteer!”

Now personally, I’m not sure I want to live to be 100. For one thing, I KNOW the DMV will take away my driver’s license by then. (On the other hand, I could find some cute guy from Uber to drive me around. I may have to rethink this.)

The real issue isn’t how long we live, but how well we live. And no matter how young or how old you are, volunteering does amazing things for your quality of life.

Eric J. Schneidewind, the president of AARP and the author of the article, writes, “A growing body of research tells us that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates and less depression, along with a greater sense of control over one’s life and high rates of self-esteem and happiness. Some studies showed that volunteers who devote about 100 hours or more per year to volunteer activities are the most likely to experience health benefits.”

If you’re serious about aging well (or simply living well now), add volunteering to your life. Find a cause you’re passionate about and join in. At Assistance League of Irvine, we’re passionate about our philanthropic programs – Operation School Bell, the Young Masters Art Show, and our Irvine Valley College Scholarships, to name a few. If we walk 10,000 steps while we’re working a shift at the thrift shop, so much the better. We’re not thinking about living to be 100 – we just want to give back to our community for as long as we’re able.

5 things you always want to know about the Thrift Shop (but didn’t ask)

FIVE THINGS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE THRIFT SHOP (BUT DIDN’T WANT TO ASK BECAUSE YOU’RE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THE ANSWER BUT YOU)

1. Where does your merchandise come from?

It comes from donations! Everything we sell has been donated to us – we don’t purchase any items for resale.  We accept donations at our back door (around the rear of the building) any time that the shop is open (on Fridays we take donations until 3 pm).

2. Why are the price tags different colors?

It’s an inventory management system that allows us to know how long an item has been in the store.  You don’t want to see the same things on the shelves month after month – and neither do we! Every month we change to a different colored tag, and after a certain period of time, we pull all the remaining items in that color.  The only exception is white tags, which are used for holiday merchandise and some of our specialty items such as antiques.  Besides – it’s more interesting to have different colors!

3.  What’s upstairs?

The second floor contains our Community Outreach Center, where we meet with clients of our different philanthropies such as Operation School Bell.  We also have an office, a small conference room, and our new mezzanine, where we store donations.

4.  What do you do with donations you can’t use?

We pass these items on to other non-profit groups.  Most of the donations that aren’t in good enough shape for our shop are given to the Salvation Army.  We also give things to several non-profits that aid veterans or the homeless, the Irvine Animal Care Center, and the Irvine Valley College Drama Department (they’re thrilled to get “vintage” clothing to use for costumes!).

5.  If I want to volunteer at the thrift shop, what do I do?

Tell one of our members at the shop (with the blue aprons!) that you’re interested.  We have several levels of volunteer support, from full ALI members to “community volunteers” who want to see if this experience is right for them.  We’ll ask you to fill out an interest form, and then our membership chair will contact you!

Vintage is the future!

At the Assistance League of Irvine thrift shop we get all kinds of retro, vintage, and just plain used items. “Retro,” “vintage,” and “mid-century modern” seem to be hot categories right now. For instance, the most popular specialty license plate at the DMV is the legacy yellow-on-black 1960s retro plate. I remember when I had an ORIGINAL license plate like that. If I’d only kept it. Like my miniskirts, my platform shoes, and my electric typewriter.

Browsing through the thrift shop can bring back many fond memories. Someone recently donated a whole set of vintage Corelle dishes. Every family I knew, when I was in junior high, bought a set of Corelle. Why? Because . . . You could put them in the dishwasher! My friends and I were ecstatic. No more evenings of washing china dishes by hand while your younger brothers and sisters hogged the TV. (The TV, which had a dial on it. Not a remote.)

If you want to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, stop by the thrift shop. We have the good (fondue pots), and the ugly (lava lamps). We don’t have the bad, because anything that isn’t in good enough condition to sell in our shop is passed on in turn to the Salvation Army.   And because there’s no such thing as a bad donation – there’s a use for everything somewhere.

Just in case you’re wondering they still make Corelle! It comes in pretty patterns now that go well with today’s decor. Maybe we should all buy some so that we’re prepared for the vintage trend in 2075.

Welcome to Irvine, aka ‘Little Seattle’

Irvine is having so much rain right now I’m starting to think we should re-name Irvine “Little Seattle.”  Here in Southern California, we’re not used to entertaining ourselves on days when it’s too stormy to even drive to the mall.  After an hour of “Storm Watch Breaking News,” on TV, it gets boring.  What can you do?

The ALI thrift store can give you lots of ideas for rainy-day activities.  You’ll have to make a trip to the shop BEFORE it rains, but you were planning to do that anyway, right?

For kids:

  • We always have miscellaneous craft supplies, and with some scissors and glue the kids can put their creativity to work.  (You’ll have to clear off the dining room table, but you can put all that stuff back once it stops raining.)
  • Pick out some of our more unusual or vintage-look clothing and keep it in a “dressing up” box.  The kids can make up a play where this box provides costumes and props. 
  • Board games and jigsaw puzzles are rainy-day staples. We’re constantly getting new donations of games and puzzles, and these are fun activities for the whole family.
  • For the grown-ups:
  • This is the time to try out that espresso machine/panini maker/blender/set of cookie cutters in the shape of flowers that you found at the thrift shop on your last visit.
  • This is the time to start that knitting project/sewing project/scrapbook that you found supplies for at the thrift shop on your last visit.
  • If you just feel like curling up by the fire, we have books, books, books! (Lots of kids’ books, too!) And DVDs!

Don’t worry – it will stop raining eventually.  But in the meantime, the thrift shop has plenty of things to keep you and your family busy!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE – IT’S NATIONAL THRIFT SHOP DAY!

If you love comic books, you go to Comic-Con. If you love thrift shopping, you celebrate NATIONAL THRIFT SHOP DAY (that would be WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17) by visiting the ALI thrift shop!

You probably won’t encounter costumed Storm Troopers or X-Men Mutants, but you’ll find plenty of other thrift shop fans who know we have the best bargains in town. All BLUE-TAGGED ITEMS WILL BE 50% OFF, so stock up on back-to-school clothes or dorm room supplies, an outfit for that Labor Day barbecue, shoes, and housewares.

We like to think our customers celebrate National Thrift Shop Day EVERY time they come into our shop. So shop with us on August 17 – and all the other days in the year, too!

Celebrate National ‘Simplify Your Life’ Week

Like me, blog readers, you probably never knew that the first week in August is “National Simplify Your Life Week”!

It’s not our place to address the philosophical reasons why we now need a designated NATIONAL week to remind us to clean out our garages. There are actually many things that go into simplifying a lifestyle, but for most of us, the first thing that comes to mind is getting rid of all those things we no longer use. (I can recall a time when clutter was actually seen as sort of a good thing. You never knew what you might find down in your grandmother’s basement – stacks of old magazines, boxes of clothes, discarded furniture that you could use to play house. You could get hours of entertainment out of it.)

Nowadays, experts recommend that you periodically go through your closets, kitchen cupboards, kids’ rooms, and, yes, your storage unit. Separate everything into things you want to keep, things you want to pass on, and things to throw away.

Bring those things you want to pass on to the ALI thrift store! While we don’t take furniture, TVs, old computers, or large appliances, you can bring us everything else. We take donations at our shop during the hours we’re open (Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm; Friday from 10 am to 5:30 pm). Drive around to our rear door at the back of our building, and we’ll happily help you unload your car.

Once you’ve simplified your life, you’ll be so happy you’ll be ready for the second week in August, which is “National Smile Week”!

LOOKING FOR A WAY TO GIVE BACK?

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Carole King:

“Good people help their neighbors in communities every day. Whether through military service, political activism, volunteering at a school, hospital, or library, or simply through quotidian acts of kindness, each of us has something to contribute to improve another person’s life.” (from Carole King’s autobiography, A Natural Woman)

 If you’re reading this blog, you’re familiar with the Assistance League of Irvine and what we do to help our community. But have you ever thought about joining us? We currently have 118 members, with more joining us every month. We have several levels of membership or volunteer opportunities, that can accommodate just about anyone’s schedule. Our members have diverse backgrounds and interests, and along with our philanthropic work, we have a LOT of fun!

If you’re looking for a way to give back to your community, or want to expand your activities and your circle of friends, stop by our thrift shop at 2452 Alton (between Jamboree and Von Karman) and fill out a membership interest form. You can also email us at: membership@irvine.assistanceleague.org. Our membership chair will call you and meet with you to give you more information about ALI. We’d love to have you join us!