Long Beach Rescue Mission Thrift Store Helps Struggling Community

LONG BEACH, CA – The Long Beach Rescue Mission Thrift Store is in its seventh year at its W. Anaheim St. location. The faith-based organization’s store aids those who are less fortunate by collecting quality items for the homeless and impoverished.

Long Beach Rescue Mission offers food and shelter for men at their Samaritan House facility as well as for women and children at their Lydia House facility. Those receiving these services get first pick on the donations that come to the thrift store. The two housing facilities sometimes put in requests for needed items.

The store accepts donations every day, and the guidelines for the kinds of donations the store appreciates can be found on its website. Currently, the store accepts jewelry, clothing, new toys, and small furniture items without any damage. Items not accepted are any old, damaged, and stained toys, clothes, and furniture. Large furniture and books, along with construction, toxic and leftover garage sale items are also not accepted. 

Thrift store manager Michele Velazquez emphasizes that the donations they receive make a huge impact. She strongly urges donors to only give quality articles and to not just dump unwanted things. 

“We have to process every single item, whether we’re throwing it away or we’re able to refurbish it and sell it and so it’s really helpful to get quality items that come in,” says Velazquez.

On the side of the building, is a distribution center where people can drop off items. Those who wish to get involved in other ways can donate money or become a volunteer.

“I would love to see at least 12-16 volunteers a day,” says Velazquez. “We have a lot of products that need to be processed… and we have a small team. And so to have that type of volunteer base if someone wants to come in once a month, once a week, every day, whatever,  we do have shifts and availability for teams of people coming in, so that would be wonderful.”

The thrift store’s staff is composed of participants in the New Life Program which helps struggling people in the community re-enter society. Velazquez says participants attend different classes that teach subjects like reading, math, personal health, and the Bible. In the program, four hours of their days are devoted to work therapy. 

Those in the work therapy program become apprentices, leading to potential part-time employment at the thrift store. Velazquez says the majority of her employees have completed the New Life Program and radiate gratitude for the positive change in their lives the Long Beach Rescue Mission has given them.

Velazquez recalls one employee of hers sponsoring a Mother’s Day event at the store where every woman who came in received a flower.

“I just love to see how they give back,” she says.

There is a comradery built into the store among its staff and customers.

“It’s almost like a family type of atmosphere where our staff knows the folks that come in by name,” says Velazquez. “It’s joyful, it’s cheery. I’ve seen customers come in and bring food and lunch and different things for the staff members.”

The store is committed to always caring for others and supplying everyone who walks in with what they need. 

“If someone comes into our store with no money and no shoes, they’re gonna leave with some shoes, they’re gonna leave with a bottle of water,” says Velazquez.

There’s a lot of effort that goes into running the humanitarian thrift store and setting a pleasant tone for everyone involved.

“I really want it to have that feel when people come in that it’s a peaceful place,” says Velazquez. “It’s a harmonious place and that it’s just a different type of vibe and feel than if you were just to walk into a Goodwill.”

For more information about the thrift store, visit their website here.

By Laila Freeman

Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Rescue Mission’s Facebook page.