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Aug 7, 2012

Helping Hands For Animals: A Thrift Store With A Heart

About a year ago I saw a flyer at my local veterinary office seeking donations for a new thrift store that was opening in Burbank with a goal to help animals in need. I gathered a variety of items and brought them down to the address on the flyer. Upon arrival I was greeted by a nice gentleman, who was in the middle of construction. He graciously took my items and told me that his wife would be grateful for the donations. A few months later I did a search online to see if the store had opened. Sure enough, it had. I promised myself that I’d check it out and finally made it down.

Helping Hands For Animals is a combo boutique/thrift store for people benefiting animals. It’s clean, well-organized, and has a very friendly staff – including two dogs, Harvick and Donovan, who were rescued by the shop’s owner Simone.

Simone Wunscher and her business partner, Stefanie Pelka, both have a background in pet rescue. Stefanie, a former dog trainer, worked with local rescue groups and helped train their animals in order to get them ready for adoption. Simone founded Pet Mania, which was the first pet supply store in the San Fernando Valley to feature rescued animals for adoption. Pet Mania is still in business, and you can still adopt from their store.

When you enter Helping Hands For Animals you walk into a boutique like setting where some of the shop’s more prized items are on display: gowns, modern dresses, designer apparel, shoes, hats, and accessories. As you make your way further into the store the aesthetic changes into what you would expect a thrift store to be, except it’s far more organized and easier to maneuver through than most. If you’re just browsing be prepared to spend some time going through the wide array of merchandise, which consists of children’s toys, books, CDs, jewelry, back to school items, household good, electronics, sporting goods, and much more. Women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing are separated and organized by style and size. You won’t have to look hard to find some amazing deals on vintage and designer apparel. A two-piece Theory suite was $19.99 and a pair of Via Spiga heels, in near perfect condition, were $8.99. There is something for everyone and every occasion (I even spotted an equestrian riding hat). You can even find some great gift items too. I came across a number of items that were unopened or new with tags.

A percentage of sales proceeds from the store go to benefit a different animal charity every month. This month’s featured charity is Milo’s Sanctuary and Special Needs Cat Rescue, Inc., which was founded on the belief that all cats deserve a second at life, especially those that have physical disabilities, are seniors, have a terminal illness, or have been abused and need someone to care for, love, and understand them. The organization also has a Lifetime Care Program for cats that can’t be re-homed and a seniors foster program where they match senior citizens with senior cats for long-term foster situations. For more on Milo’s Sanctuary visit:

Helping Hands For Animals is located at 2800 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA. It’s open 7 days a week. Mon – Sat from 10 a.m. – 7 P.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  On Wednesday all clothing and shoes are 50% off, on Sunday everything is 25%, and there is also a weekly special of 50% off different colored labels. The store accepts donations of gently used clothing, household items, small furniture, antiques/collectibles, and appliances during business hours or you can call 1-877-763-9685 to arrange pickup of larger items.

Narrative and photos by Nikki Neil  

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