The Helping Hands Thrift Store is a nonprofit organization that has been part of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community since the early 1980s. It has helped Community members and departments by making a difference in donating and recycling. Everything in the store comes from donations, except for the snacks that are available for purchase.
“We provide baby layettes for free to new mothers of the Community. They can come in and pick out the necessities for their newborns in our store,” said Cheryl Enas, the store manager. Enas has been working at Helping Hands for 20 years. “We also offer help to those who are referred to us from programs such as the Health and Human Services Intake Center or the Social Services Department.”
Helping Hands also works with the Early Childhood Education Center, Salt River Elementary and Salt River High School to identify and assist families in need of clothing.
“The schools provide us with a referral of who needs our help,” said Vickie Miles, the assistant manager of Helping Hands. “We try to provide [each child with] two tops and bottoms, socks and shoes when available.”
Supporting the Community
The store inventory includes women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, but they are hoping to receive more donations of household items and school supplies.
The store has working office supplies including phones, keyboards, monitors and chairs, but it currently does not offer large furniture because of lack of space.
“People or organizations from outside the Community, and also many enterprises of the Community, donate to the store,” said Miles. She explained that each month they try to do something different, whether it’s a sale or a shopping spree. Their big events usually take place in February and September, when they do their seasonal change-over of their inventory.
A 50-percent-off sale takes place quarterly, around the same time as the per-capita payout. “Dollar Bag Day” is a day when shoppers get a bag and fill it up with as many items as they can for only one dollar. Then there are free days, when everything that the store puts out is free. Helping Hands also provides a free two-week layaway program.
Winter clothing that remains unsold is donated to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, because they experience colder temperatures than Salt River and Lehi do. During the summer months, the store will donate unsold clothing to Sells.
Helping Hands donates items to the Gila River Indian Community as well.
Community departments also receive some items. The store holds a drive for the Early Childhood Education Center and also donates materials to the O’odham Piipaash Language Program for use in their classes.
“If anything can be used for educational purposes, we will find a place to give it to,” said Enas.
Donations and Volunteers Wanted
If you would like to donate unwanted, gently used clothing and/or accessories to Helping Hands, there is a dropoff area on the side of the building. They offer a form so you can make a record of your charitable donation for tax purposes.
The store is always in need of volunteers, including anyone who is looking to meet their compliance for court-ordered community service hours. There is always something that needs to be done, such as ironing and cleaning or testing donated items to make sure they are OK for sale.
Hours of operation at Helping Hands are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call (480) 362-5625.