Mothers Day, Graduation and more!

imageIf you haven’t been to the Thrift Shop lately, come in and see our revamped checkout area. This new setup gives us more working room at the cash registers, so we can ring up your purchases more quickly.

And that’s a GOOD thing because . . . May is super-sale month! We’ll have INCREDIBLE sales all month, because we’re counting down to May 30, when we take inventory. You’ll get amazing deals all month long, so “shop early and often.”

This is a GREAT time to look for Mother’s Day and graduation gifts, and, for those who really plan ahead, Father’s Day presents. With summer approaching, you’ll be going to a lot of parties and barbecues, so you can also pick up some inexpensive hostess gifts to keep on hand. Beach books, small toys for the kids to take on vacation – it’s all here.

Stop in soon to take advantage of our May sales! (And think of us when you’re doing your spring cleaning – we accept donations any time during the hours our Thrift Shop is open.)

 

SAVE THESE DATES FOR “I HEART OC GIVING DAY” – “THIRTY HOURS TO GIVE WHERE YOUR HEART LIVES”

 

 

Set your alarm for 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 21. That’s the start of the Orange County Community Foundation’s “Day of Giving” for 2015. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $2MM in 30 hours (6 :00 a.m. on April 21 to noon on April 22) for local non-profits who are participating in this event. Assistance League of Irvine is proud to be one of the organizations in Orange County participating in this effort. If you’re not familiar with the OCCF, this foundation has been actively working in Orange County for the past 25 years and has awarded over $257MM to local charities to help meet the needs of our county.

ALI will not only have the benefit of your donations made to us in connection with the Day of Giving – we’ll be eligible for “bonus prizes” to be awarded by the Foundation! There are 78 available cash prizes in categories from how much money you raise as a percent of total donations, to the non-profit with the most “likes,” comments, or retweets on social media. Of course we’d LOVE to win one of these prizes!

How to donate? We’ll have a link to the “Day of Giving” website on our own website, Facebook page, and this blog starting April 13. All you’ll have to do is CLICK HERE – follow and watch for updates!

Please SHARE the news about “I Heart OC Giving Day” with your friends and neighbors. This is an event that impacts all of Orange County, not just Irvine. The more people who participate and donate during this 30 hours, the more everyone benefits. Spread the word, and open your heart and your wallet on April 21.

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KEEP THE SPARK ALIVE!

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For the past two months, one of the top books on the Los Angeles Times’ best-seller list has been “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo. Judging by the book’s sales, there are a LOT of us out there who want to change our lives, or, at least, to straighten up our houses.

Now I don’t want to give away all the details of Ms. Kondo’s de-cluttering strategy (if you want the whole scoop, you need to buy her book). I WILL tell you that one of the steps is to discard anything that doesn’t make you feel “a spark of joy.” Maybe you felt a spark of joy when you bought that sweater. Maybe you felt a spark of joy the first ten times you wore it. But if you don’t feel a spark of joy right here, right now, it needs to go.

That doesn’t mean the sweater can’t bring a spark of joy to someone else! If you donate all the things you discard out of your life (after you read the book) to the ALI Thrift Shop, the spark of joy will keep burning. In fact, one of the things that continually amazes us is how often we put an item out on the shop floor and a customer exclaims, “This is just what I’ve been looking for!”

So as you’re tidying up, think of the Thrift Shop. We accept donations during any hours the Shop is open. If you have a large donation (a car full of boxes, for instance), drive around to our rear door and ring the bell. Our volunteers will happily accept your donations and give you a receipt.

And then, of course, you may see something ELSE at the Thrift Shop that brings you . . . a NEW spark of joy!

The amazing donors of Team Stone Creek

donation-pick-upWe have thrift shop donors . . . and then we have thrift shop donors. Today we want to tell you about some truly amazing donors! They are called Team Stone Creek, and they’re a student service club of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at Stone Creek Elementary School in Woodbridge.

At the beginning of the school year, the kids, along with their faculty advisors Mike Clarke, John Hernandez, and Shelley Nishikawa, brainstormed suggestions for service projects. They came up with the idea of a clothing drive to benefit the ALI thrift shop, since they thought most families have old clothing they’d be happy to donate to a good cause. Stone Creek School has a special fondness for the Assistance League of Irvine, since Susan Mehrtens, a long-time ALI member (and incoming chapter president for 2014-15) was the school’s principal from 1998 to 2006. The students felt our thrift shop would be a worthy recipient for their donations.

The 4th graders created a flyer and sent out an e-mail blast to the community, while the 5th graders made posters advertising the event. The 6th grade was in charge of picking up the donations. The clothing drive was a huge success – they collected almost 60 bags of clothing for ALI!  

These amazing kids also held a food drive at Thanksgiving to benefit Families Forward, and sponsored a book drive last month. Their efforts are one of the reasons Stone Creek was recently ranked as the fourth-best elementary school in Orange County (out of 371 schools) by the Orange County Register.

With students like these, we know the future of Irvine is in good hands. Thank you, Stone Creek Elementary School!

Save Us from the Count

6f310952637a10439f8c88775093e3c6Remember Count Von Count from Sesame Street? The Count, a muppet vampire dressed like Bela Lugosi, likes to count things. He counts. And counts. And counts.

At the thrift shop, we count things, too! Once a year, at the end of May, we take an inventory of the items in the shop for our financial statements. Since we don’t have a bar code system to automatically track our merchandise, we count everything by hand. Just like the Count! (Except that no one has yet asked us to appear in a muppet movie.)

Your ALI volunteers aren’t like Count Von Count. We don’t LIKE to count. We want to get back to running our shop and raising money for our programs. So in order to have fewer things to count, we’re holding MONSTER SALES until the end of the month. Everything must go, go, go! Or we’ll have to count it!

You can save us from the Count! Check out our weekly sales and come in to shop. If you buy it, we don’t have to count it. And the only thing YOU’LL need to count is how much you saved!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night Mortgage!

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Recently ALI held a very, very special celebration in our Community Outreach Center upstairs from the thrift shop. Yes, shoppers and readers, we’ve done it! We’ve burned our mortgage!

Let’s go back in time a few years, and we’ll explain how we fulfilled this dream of every Irvine property owner. Many of you may remember our original thrift shop on Main Street, near John Wayne Airport. We had a vision of buying a property, where we would have room to host our Operation School Bell clients, provide additional resources to the community, and house our thrift shop. We started a Capital Campaign, and the City of Irvine helped by awarding us a Community Development Block Grant. And in July 2009, we were able to purchase our business condominium unit at 2452 Alton! We made a down payment and took out a 10-year mortgage with a balloon payment due in July, 2019 (typical for commercial real estate loans).

Our new location was an immediate success, and soon our thrift shop was bringing in enough money for us to expand our philanthropic programs AND have extra cash. Our far-sighted finance director, Penny Bolton, pointed out that if we made additional payments on our mortgage, we’d be able to pay off the loan earlier than 2019, plus saving a lot on interest.   A lower mortgage – or no mortgage – down the road would give us even more money to give back to the community. A win-win! Our “Free ALI” fund-raising campaign was born!

Janet Lisle (long-time member and past president of ALI) and her husband, Phil, made a generous donation of seed money, matched by donations from our members, to start off the “Free ALI” campaign. And with hard work from all our members, plus the continued support of OUR THRIFT SHOP CUSTOMERS, we chipped away at that mortgage balance. Then last summer, we received an amazing, if bittersweet, bequest from the estate of another long-time member, Hedy Mulhausen. Hedy’s gift enabled us to pay off the rest of the mortgage in full in September, 2013 – just four years after we took out the loan!

We didn’t ACTUALLY burn the mortgage last week, because that would have set off the fire alarm and the sprinklers – but we burned it in spirit! Many who have shared this journey with us, were there to help us celebrate this momentous occasion – Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, City Council Member Beth Krom, City Manager Sean Joyce, and Jerome Carrasco, Greg Smith, Fawn Tanriverdi, and Margie Wakeham from our Community Advisory Council.

So if you notice extra-wide smiles on the faces of the ALI members the next time you’re at the shop or one of our events, it’s because the mortgage is gone – and we’re SMILING all the way to the bank!

Many memories have been made at our shop – check out some pictures over the years:

 

 

 

Support Your Local Tax-Free Zone!

no sales taxYou’ve all heard of Duty-Free Shops.  Those shops at the airport, with security guards at the entrance and enticing displays of designer handbags, perfumes, and high-end liquor  in their windows.  You watch enviously as the lucky passengers with international tickets are shown into this magical place, where shoppers pay no sales tax or VAT because they’re about to leave the country. 

But you no longer need to gaze wistfully at the Duty-Free Shop and think about how wonderful it would be not to pay sales tax.  You can shop right here in Irvine – and not pay any sales tax! No saving for months to afford the plane ticket to Europe.  No two-hour drive to LAX during the morning rush hour so you can make it through airport security in time to board your afternoon flight.  No searching frantically for a spot in the long-term parking structure.  All this is behind you! Tax-free shopping awaits you!

At the ALI thrift shop, customers don’t pay sales tax.  That’s because we are a non-profit organization.  We’re able to obtain an exemption from sales tax by providing work training to a group of clients of Goodwill Industries.   These wonderful people work with us every week to help prepare our clothing donations to go out on the racks in the store. This improves their work skills and self-esteem, and we’re able to save our customers the sales tax.  It’s a win-win for everyone – and makes our thrift shop even more of a bargain for our customers!