by Jenny Rackl
The St. Paws Thrift Store (3275 E. Platte Ave.) is filled with the diverse staples of any typical second-hand shop: zebra-striped shoes, a blender, a bicycle and some miscellaneous glassware. But the item that best epitomizes the store is a lime-green knit sweater with a spotted dog on the front. It has nothing to do with the flamboyant color, but the unique mission behind this seemingly ordinary thrift store — to benefit man’s best friend (and other critters).
Since opening in February this year, this nonprofit has aimed to raise money for local and surrounding area rescue and welfare groups through selling items donated by the community.
On Friday, June 3, just over 12 weeks after opening, St. Paws donated $500 to five animal rescue organizations: Kritter Karavan focuses on education and giving small exotic animals a forever home; Look What the Cat Brought In is a local cat shelter founded in 2008; Hamlett Spay and Neuter Clinic provides affordable sterilization of both dogs and cats; Westie Rescue locally represents Westie Rescue Network Inc.; and SAINT Rescue is a shelter that identifies and adopts out abused and mistreated animals in eastern El Paso County. This was second donation cycle for St. Paws. The store aims to hand out donations every two months.
St. Paws volunteer and board member Linda Hoover says St. Paws hoped that the community would respond to its mission so positively. “It’s going beyond our wildest dreams, the idea that the community has gotten behind us.”
St. Paws President Vicki Doerfler says the idea for St. Paws sprang from the exhaustion of organizing just one fundraising event for a single rescue group — and then having to start the process over. She realized the need for a source of perpetual animal rescue funding that would allow groups to focus less on money and more on their main mission: rescuing and rehabilitating animals.
“Animal rescue can be so draining,” Hoover says. “It’s nice to be around people who believe what you believe.”
Donations are not handed out in a systematic list order. Each month the needs of all eligible rescue groups are examined and St. Paws then targets the groups where the donation will make the greatest impact.
Look What the Cat Brought In will use the donation to care for severely neglected cats they received from a hoarding situation in Arizona.
Jennifer Nosler is the president of Look What the Cat Brought In. “Every time we get a donation it gives us the courage to go forward,” Nosler says. “It’s a foundation to work from.”
Along with raising funds, St. Paws promotes communication between the various local rescue groups. “We want them to feel like they are part of a community where they are not alone,” Hoover says. “We are an additional voice for them. Not everyone can rescue, but we can offer support.”
So get your tail into St. Paws to see what all the bark is about. You can shop Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., donate, or volunteer. Learn more on the St. Paws Thrift Store Facebook page.