Helping Hands supports dozens of nonprofits

Manager Norma Garcia and Marketing Director Bridget Nelson at the Helping Hands Thrift Store.

Manager Norma Garcia and Marketing Director Bridget Nelson at the Helping Hands Thrift Store.

The Helping Hands Community Thrift Store & Furniture Bank strives to be a fundraising vehicle for numerous nonprofit partners while simultaneously providing a much needed service to the community.

Voted as the #1 Thrift Store in New Haven County by “CTNOW Best of New Haven Readers Poll 2017,” the organization, located at 334 Boston Post Road in Orange, works with more than 175 nonprofits year round, encouraging community members to donate gently used items to the Thrift Store, which then sells them, donating a portion of the sales price to the donors’ preferred charity.

Participating nonprofit organizations dubbed “partners” encourage their supporters to donate items. Beneficiaries include Partners Helping Children and Families, Senior Citizens, the Local Community, People with Medical Needs, Partners Providing International Community Services, Partners Feeding the Local Community, Promoting the Arts, Helping the Homeless, Partners in the Religious Community and more. All partners must be registered with the IRS as a 501©3 nonprofit organization.

“It started out with our parent company (Tzedakah House, LLC, an independent insurance company owned by Steven Greenberg) giving a portion of their commissions to charity and as they grew, it got to be too much so they opened the thrift store,” explained Bridget Nelson, marketing director. “People donate items and we sell them in the thrift store or put them in the furniture bank and 12 percent of the sales price goes back to the charity that was selected. We work with over 50 local nonprofits, ranging from veterans, homeless, children’s charities, animals, we are all across the board - there’s a charity for everybody, it’s a wonderful operation. Companies can contact us and we recruit as well, as long as you are a 501(c)3, you don’t have to do anything and you receive donations.”

Additionally, in this win-win partnership, the furniture bank sells the donated items at deep discounts, providing necessary household items including furniture and appliances to those in need. “Our furniture bank is available to clients of partnering social service nonprofit organizations; low income families, formerly homeless people transitioning to permanent housing, senior citizens with little or no income, survivors of domestic violence, families who have lost furniture due to disaster, individuals suffering from illness and many other people in need.”

Co-owners Steven and Karen Greenberg work together to ensure the success of Helping Hands, Steve the managing partner and provider of necessary funding, and Karen with many years of retail experience acts as the Director of Personnel and Retail Design with a goal “to make Helping Hands (HH) a friendly, comfortable place to shop.” Allen Klein is the operations director.

Helping Hands explained, “Our Thrift Store is filled with items donated by supporters of our nonprofit members. Donations can be dropped off or we offer a pickup service for larger items like furniture and appliances. Upon receipt the donations are barcoded to the designated nonprofit, chosen by the donor, who upon drop-off receives a tax receipt to be used for tax deduction purposes. The donor assigns their own value to the donated items. When the donated items are sold, 12 percent of the sale price goes to the nonprofit. We have issued checks to members in excess of $800 per month which helps fund their programs.”

“Our furniture bank is available on a referral basis and offers gently used beds, dressers, tables, chairs and sofas for a nominal administrative fee. We are helping a wide range of people in need. Helping Hands Community Thrift Store & Furniture Bank is privately funded. We act as ‘brokers’ for our nonprofit members. We hire from within the community and have created job training positions for individuals with disabilities. We are truly trying to make a positive difference in the community.”

Karen Greenberg added, “We also help a lot of children with special needs like the children across the street at the Milestones Academy. We let them come here and learn how to work in a position, and learn what it’s like to be out in a job and they get experience. We’re really big on that, we try to provide an environment for them to work in.”

Approximately 100-150 shoppers come through the store, which is open seven days a week, on a daily basis. Store Manager Norma Garcia, who has worked at Helping Hands for five years said, “We help a lot of people; the best part of working here is how much I’ve grown since I started. I was really shy and now I open up to people and know them personally and their families and what they’ve been through. It’s rewarding for me.”

Spring cleaning? “Bring us your donations! We are always looking for donations,” encouraged Nelson. If you are interested in becoming a nonprofit partner, email “We help people who need it the most; we are here to raise money for wonderful nonprofits and to help give a leg up to people who need it, people who are starting to get on their feet, that’s what we’re here for.” Helping Hands is now offering full house clean outs. Call 203.298.0499 for a no obligation quote and 203.782.4800 to arrange a furniture pick up (a nominal fee is charged to help offset the cost of the driver and truck).