Helping Hands finds new home

Helping Hands’ Etta Melhart, left, and Lana Lasley are all smiles over their latest load of donated items for the thrift store. - Kirk Boxleitner
Helping Hands’ Etta Melhart, left, and Lana Lasley are all smiles over their latest load of donated items for the thrift store.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — Near the end of last year, the Helping Hands thrift store, next to the Arlington Community Food Bank near Haller Park, was facing the very real likelihood of not having a home. While the Food Bank had found funding and facilities to relocate to in the business park east of the Arlington Municipal Airport, Helping Hands still needed to find an affordable place to house their donated wares, which they sell to raise proceeds to give back to the community.

In the new year, not only is construction underway on a new building for Helping Hands, but thanks to The Point Church the thrift store has somewhere they can hang their hat, along with all of their other clothes, for a full year in the meantime.

“It was the end of January, only three weeks ago, when we put out the call to help us move,” said Lana Lasley, treasurer and store manager for Helping Hands on Friday, Feb. 17. “That last Saturday of January, we had so many volunteers show up that we actually had to turn some away. They came in like gangbusters and got it all done in one day.”

While Helping Hands’ address is new — 16910 59th Dr. NE in Arlington — its hours remain the same, from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sharing space in the same unit as The Point Church, only a few blocks away from the Food Bank’s current location, Lasley and her staff have found their new customer floorspace more open than their previous accommodations, even if their new sorting room is a bit more cramped than they’d gotten used to before. Lasley nonetheless expressed her gratitude to The Point Church for making Helping Hands’ continued existence possible.

“They want to help people too,” Lasley said, as she explained that Helping Hands’ recent transitions have inspired them to finally apply for official non-profit status. “We didn’t need to before because we’ve been under $25,000 all these years, but we’re going to have to pay rent. Compared to other thrift stores, though, we’ll have the cheapest prices around.”

For customers like Lili Bablovski, those relatively inexpensive prices have made her family’s lives sustainable in the midst of ongoing economic challenges.

“My husband lost his construction job,” said Bablovski, who’s shopped at Helping Hands for the past few months. “He’s found a new job since then, but it doesn’t pay as much. You think more about clothes and food at times like that. When I come here, I can get nice clothes and shoes, some of them even new, at a low cost.”

Seniors Jack and Lois Williams have made their twice-weekly shopping trips to Helping Hands a tradition for the past 11 years, ever since they first heard about it at their church in Sedro-Woolley.

“If they’re not here Wednesdays and Fridays, we call them to make sure they’re okay,” Lasley said. “It’s always nice to have them come by.”

Lois Williams finds all the fabric and yarn she needs for her crafts at Helping Hands, while her husband Jack enjoys the company of the thrift store’s staff and other customers.

“With what we spend here, they turn around and help folks out in the community,” Jack Williams said. “Especially if you’re raising a child in this economy, this is the place to shop.”

“Kids grow out of clothes so fast,” Lois Williams said. “At Helping Hands, you get a friendly atmosphere and prices that can’t be beat. We live just this side of Oso, but we tell everyone we see about it, from Sedro-Woolley to Mount Vernon.”

For more information, call Helping Hands at 360-435-2214.


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