PROSSER, WA - Thanks to generous community support, 2018 was a record-setting year for the Hospice Benefit Shop (Hobs) of Prosser. The non-profit thrift store raised $179,000 that goes toward compassionate end-of-life care offered by Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care.

“It was an amazing year, both from community involvement and sales,” said Shelby Moore, development director for Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care. The Sunnyside-based organization, formerly known as Lower Valley Hospice, helps families and terminally ill patients during the dying process. “We raised almost $30,000 above our budgeted goal for 2018.”

Moore said money raised by Hobs cover store expenses and directly benefits those who need but cannot afford hospice and palliative care services. 

The charity thrift shop opened its doors in 1998. It was founded by Jan Nilsson and 12 other volunteers in memory of Nilsson’s mother-in-law, Anne O. Witcraft. Heartlinks later purchased the store building at 612 5th Street, where Hobs now operates 6 days a week.

Hobs manager Vicki Escobar said one key to the shop’s tremendous success has been the constant supply of quality items - many of them new - donated by area residents.

“People understand how important end-of-life services are for patients and their families and donating unwanted household items is a great way for them to help, too,” Escobar said. In turn, the thrift shop offers a valuable service to Valley residents by providing reasonably priced clothing, books, jewelry, toys, and assorted household goods.

Another key to Hobs’ success has been its predominantly volunteer staff. More than 45 volunteers work hundreds of hours a year to sort, clean, organize, stock and sell the store’s inventory. Some volunteers have had a loved one served by hospice; others simply want to give back to the local community, Escobar said.

At a recent meeting with hospice officials, Moore said many shop volunteers were touched by the fact that Heartlinks currently is the only local hospice organization to serve children as well as adults. She said is it much more difficult for families to lose a child so hospice staff spend more time and resources on those emotionally-charged cases.  That makes Hobs financial contribution even more important, she said.

Hobs staff “are very intentional about what goes out on the sales floor, when it goes out and how it is displayed. We strive to maximize each donation, so it brings in more money for hospice,” Escobar said. “The design is thoughtful, and the way we put out merchandise always has our mission in mind.”

In 2016, Hobs launched its own Facebook page, which the store manager said has helped get the word out about the shop’s weekly featured items and special sales.  Check it out at https://www.facebook.com/hospicebenefitshop/.

The thrift shop accepts clothing, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, small appliances, linens, draperies, kitchen/bath items, and other home decorating items.  Anyone can drop off new or gently used donations during store hours at the service entrance in the alley. Please ring the bell to the right of the gray door for assistance.

Hobs opens at 11am on Mondays and 9:30am Tuesday-Saturday. The shop closes 5:30pm weekdays and 3pm Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. Escobar said volunteers are needed for all positions. People can apply at the store or by emailing vicki@heartlinkshospice.org.

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