WomanHaven hosts tote bag crafting day

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Jesse Aguirre of Imperial Valley Food Bank and Ivan Soto of the WomanHaven Thrift Store hold up tote bags made of old t-shirts during an event Tuesday hosted by the thrift shop at 601 Broadway Street, El Centro.

EL CENTRO - The WomanHaven Thrift Store hosted an event Tuesday in which locals were invited to make t-shirts into reusable tote bags. After making the tote bag, participants could fill it with free food from the Imperial Valley Food Bank. WomanHaven also offered a 50 percent discount on the entire store, in hopes of attracting people to the event and making more sales.

Proceeds from the thrift store help support WomanHaven Center for Family Solutions, a locally organized agency with a mission to promote and provide comprehensive response to domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking through community outreach, education, intervention, client support, as well as safety and shelter services, according to its website.

Ivan Soto, the outreach specialist with WomanHaven, said they planned this event to repurpose the overwhelming amount of donated t-shirts WomanHaven usually receives this time of year.

“We like to do activities that repurpose old items and we like to do zero waste activities,” said Soto.

Pleased with the outcome, Soto said approximately 40 people attended to repurpose their shirts and many people came to take advantage of the sale.

Several visitors shopped with their families, while others were busy making new tote bags out of the old t-shirts.

Soto said he enjoys being a part of an organization that helps the community by providing them with clothes and other household items they might need.

“We want to get things into people’s homes and into their hands,” said Soto.

Jesse Aguirre, an employee with the Imperial Valley Food Bank, helped by bringing food that was free for anyone participating in the tote bag crafting.

Aguirre and the food bank help community members with applying for documentation for food stamps and CalFresh benefits. The agency even has a vehicle to pick up paperwork from applicants in hope of helping residents without reliable transportation to make it to the application office.

Aguirre said he participated in the tote bag crafting to support Soto and the thrift store and values the importance of helping those in need and providing support for those who have difficulty supporting themselves.

“I know what it’s like to not have food, and it’s critical for people to know things are available to them,” said Aguirre.

Soto said he hopes to see more cooperative projects between WomanHaven and the Imperial Valley Food Bank.