Behind the scenes – what really happens in Santa’s workshop!

The ALI thrift shop is stocked with holiday merchandise – lights, ornaments, Hanukkah-themed items, tabletop linens and decor, and much, much, MUCH more!

Now if this were a movie, little singing birds and mice wearing adorable clothing would have miraculously appeared in the dead of night to put these fantastic holiday treasures on the shelves.

In real life, there’s no fairy godmother with a magic wand to make this happen.  It’s all done by – you guessed it – your devoted ALI volunteers!

We collected 200 plastic storage bins of holiday merchandise during the year (thanks to all you devoted supporters of ALI who donated your holiday decorations to us!) And every donation that went into those bins was inspected, cleaned, priced, and wrapped for protection before it went into storage.  Our three “holiday merchandising managers” – Libby, Robin, and Sharyl – did this ALL YEAR LONG.  You know how you feel after you finally put the decorations away? Imagine doing that week after week!

It’s taking ALL of our volunteers, working behind the scenes, to unwrap everything in those 200 bins and put it out in the shop for you.  So every Tuesday in November, we’ll empty a few more bins and have MORE HOLIDAY ITEMS on the shelves for you.  Come by on our special November Tuesday shopping days to see what’s new!

And if you see an ALI volunteer with a name tag that reads Libby, Robin, or Sharyl – give her a big “Thank you” for filling all those bins!

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February 14th is around the corner. Shop with us!

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the greeting card aisle, the calendar strikes again. It’s Valentine’s Day! Well, not quite, but it’s on the way.

Now we know all of you headed over to the cell phone store at the end of December so you could trade in your phone before the free upgrade expired. We also know that 97% of you have yet to download the instruction manual for your new phone, and thus have NO IDEA how to program a reminder to buy a Valentine gift for your significant other into your phone.

You have two options before February 14:

– Download the manual, which will appear in teeny tiny print on your cell phone screen. Since you can only read one paragraph at a time when you enlarge the text enough to be visible, it’ll take you 5,294 hours to go through it.

– Go to the Assistance League of Irvine’s Thrift Shop RIGHT NOW and pick out all your Valentine gifts from our selection of incredible bargains. We have jewelry, crystal, china, silver, and picture frames. For the kids, we have a whole menagerie of Valentine-themed stuffed animals. We have the ever-popular DVDs, CDs, and books. And if a special Valentine’s Day dinner or party is in your future, we’ve got the clothes.

See how easy a holiday can be? Now pull out that new phone and start making Valentine’s Day plans!

California Dreamin’ – Thrift Shop Road Trip

If you drove by the thrift shop a couple of Mondays ago and saw a group of ALI volunteers in their blue aprons clustered around a red Thunderbird convertible in front of the shop, you weren’t California Dreamin’. That was a visit from National Assistance League’s Anne Salenger, and her “Thrift Shop Road Trip.”

Anne is traveling around the country, visiting and blogging about different Assistance League thrift stores. We were thrilled to have Anne join us for one of our Monday behind-the-scenes work sessions. Our shop was filled with eager ALI volunteers sorting, cleaning, and changing out the merchandise for the coming week. Anne’s visit came just after our Holiday Extravaganza, so the shop looked especially festive with all our holiday items. Anne was able to see first-hand the incredible effort that goes into getting the shop ready to open for the week each Wednesday morning.

While everything ALI does is for our own community, it’s inspiring for us to be able to share our story with other chapters – and to learn from them as well. We hope Anne and her “Road Trip” come back soon for another visit!

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Small Business Saturday is Coming!

SAVE THE DATE FOR SOME…

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Mark this date on your calendar! Saturday, November 29 (that’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is Small Business Saturday. It’s going to be a fantastic day at the ALI Thrift Shop, and you won’t want to miss out. This special once-a-year event will feature:

– Prices so low, no layaway plan is needed!

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– Free giveaways to adult shoppers through random drawings – no purchase required! We’ll have lots of great prizes, including Starbucks gift items from the Starbucks at Alton Square, and gourmet sauces from Sola Jams.

– Free face-painting & balloon animals for kids (parent must be present) by our  Assisteen volunteers, from 1 pm to 3 pm.

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  – Our popular Mystery Discount off your entire bill! Pick a token from the Mystery Discount Jar after your items are totaled at the register. Whatever number you pick, we’ll give you that percentage off your entire purchase.

– Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 as a way to draw attention to Main Street businesses. These businesses create jobs and tie the community together. They’re staffed (like our thrift shop) by your friends and neighbors. And they’re often the first to respond when there’s a need for help in the community, because they’re part of its daily life.You’ll have Black Friday to visit the national chain stores.

Save Small Business Saturday for the ALI thrift shop! You will be dancing down the aisles happy!

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Welcome to the ALI Superhero Universe!

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You’ve heard of the Marvel Superhero Universe? Welcome to the ALI Superhero Universe!

Just like the Marvel Universe, the ALI Universe is filled with superheroes in disguise. Most of the time, these people lead ordinary lives, just like you and me. They walk their dogs. They shop at Trader Joe’s. They post pictures of their vacations on Facebook.

But several times a month, their cell phones ping with the special “ALI Superheroes” signal. Answering the call, they shed their normal identities to become – ALI volunteers! With no special powers except for their huge hearts, they enter the secret lair known as the ALI Community Outreach Center/Thrift Shop, and from there go forth to help their neighbors in need.

The best thing about the ALI Superheroes Universe is – anyone can be a part of it! No radioactive spiders, genetic mutations, or alien microchips are necessary. All you need is the desire to make a difference in the lives of those in our community who need a helping hand.

AND – unlike the Marvel Universe – there’s no limit to the number of superheroes! VOLUNTEERS WANTED – NO SPECIAL POWERS REQUIRED.

(Watch for ALI’s upcoming ad campaign, featuring some of our superheroes in these great costumes, which were designed by Stephanie Lee. Stephanie is a former intern at the ALI thrift shop who is attending design school, and often contributes fashion ideas to our blog.)

ALI RECEIVES AWARD AT CITY HALL

041605810456467_10151867185532255_4859917203299874926_nAssistance League of Irvine was honored on May 31st by the Irvine Prevention Coalition and Irvine Community Drug Prevention. We were one of three groups and 15 individuals receiving awards at City Hall for outstanding work in support of Irvine youth.

ALI was nominated by Susan Holt, a school social worker who coordinates the Irvine Family Resource Program. In her nomination, Susan wrote: “The Assistance League has provided basic needs support through their Operation School Bell Program for decades, assisting low income students to be ready to learn by providing backpacks, school supplies and clothing to needy families in IUSD. Over the last few years, they have gone above and beyond OSB by making additional funds available to help some of our especially challenged K-12 students with graduation costs, bus passes to get to school, additional clothing and gift cards for extra school supplies. For these students, even getting to school can be a challenge. The help provided by AL funds helps them feel more prepared and ready to move forward with their education. It is hard to describe what a difference these supports make for homeless kids who may also be dealing with extreme family problems and financial pressures, personal challenges, multiple moves, and housing and food insecurity.”

The Irvine Prevention Coalition was formed in 1995 to bring together resources and services to support children, youth, and families. Today there are over 60 community partners participating in the coalition. Their mission is to support a safe and caring community by working together to provide prevention strategies and coordinated services designed to reduce substance abuse, violence and related problems among our youth.   Preventive strategies take many forms – education about drug and alcohol abuse, encouragement of healthy lifestyles, and giving young people the tools to be successful in school and life without drugs.

We are honored to be recognized for Operation School Bell. But we couldn’t provide everything we give the kids through OSB without the continued support of our thrift store shoppers and donors! Thank you!

FATHER’S DAY AT THE THRIFT SHOP

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Father’s Day is Sunday, June 15. It’s a special day to honor and remember our dads and all they mean to us. That means kisses, hugs, words of thanks, and . . . presents.

We love them, but they can be hard to buy for. Here are some items CURRENTLY at the thrift shop that might inspire you. (Remember, all our merchandise is one-of-a-kind, so if it sounds interesting, get over to the shop right away or it may be gone.)

CLOTHING: We have a fantastic selection of Hawaiian-style shirts, including many Reyn Spooner and Tommy Bahama patterns, that are perfect for summer pool parties and barbecues. And we have lots of shorts to go with them!

BICYCLING: If Dad is a serious cyclist, we have several biking suits.

WATER SPORTS: We have swim fins and board shorts for the beach.

BOOKS AND RECORDS: We ALWAYS have a variety of books – whether Dad likes mysteries, thrillers, history, or politics, we most likely have a book he’d enjoy. If he’s into vintage vinyl, we have a collection of records by various artists. And we have a lovely gift book titled, “Poems for Fathers” that says it all.

GAMES AND DVDs: Right now we have a “Law & Order” board game and some movie trivia games, plus our ever-popular DVD section.

GOLF (you KNEW this was coming . . .): If Dad likes golf, look no further. Just program our address, 2452 Alton, into your GPS and start the car. We have golf balls; a putting trainer with artificial turf (this is a really good buy – this item is WAY more expensive at the golf superstore); a “Condo Golf” game; a golf club cleaning kit; many, many golf books priced at $1 or less; a golf-themed water bottle; a golf-themed lamp; a golf throw pillow; golf mugs; golf stationery. And more!

FOR THE DAD WHO HAS EVERYTHING: We have brand-new Weber barbecue accessories, ties (of course!), a set of highball glasses with beautiful pictures of game birds on them, and a framed collage called “I Heard It From My Dad.”

And if you’re still stumped for ideas, bring Dad to the thrift shop and let him pick out something for himself! Happy Father’s Day to all of our wonderful Dads!