By Randi Perlman
Valley Charities, Inc. 

Mat-Su thrift store charity has long history


November 1, 2023 | View PDF

Photo courtesy Valley Charities, Inc.

Valley residents are familiar with turn-A-leaf Thrift Store in Wasilla. It's a warm and welcoming treasure trove of gently used wonders. From kitchen utensils to sporting goods, electronics to stylish jeans, artwork to furniture, or that one-of-a-kind collectible you haven't seen anywhere else, you're likely to find whatever you're looking for and then some at very reasonable prices. But did you know that Valley Charities, Inc., the umbrella organization under which turn-A-leaf operates, has been "connecting those who need help with the help they need" for over 60 years?

In the mid-1950s, a group of Wasilla residents wanted to assist the impoverished sector of the community with clothing or small financial loans. They accomplished this with weekly garage sales. These became so popular the group decided to open a thrift store, enabling them to sell items and provide more assistance to those experiencing financial hardships.

White Elephant Thrift Store opened in 1969 in a Quonset hut in downtown Wasilla, led by Christine Smith. Other distinguished Valley residents deeply involved in the evolution of Valley Charities include Pat Newcombe, Collen Cottle, Ellen Malone and Olga Ward. Since then, the store has changed names and locations several times.

In 1983, it became known as Treasure Loft, providing cherished treasures to many local residents, and in June 2008 moved to 400 N. Yenlo Street behind Wasilla Carrs. The following year, the name was changed to turn-A-Leaf Thrift Store, reflecting the assistance VCI has provided to the community for decades. The name comes from the phrase "turning over a new leaf".

Valley Charities' core values of pioneering, partnering, serving, community and compassion provide a pathway for connecting those who need help with the help they need. Item donations are appreciated, and shopping at turn-A-leaf enables VCI to continue fulfilling the growing resource needs in the Mat-Su.

Valley Charities, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing life-changing programs and opportunities to Mat-Su Valley residents. Through their Housing Assistance Partnership program, Mat-Su Reentry program, Medical Equipment Lending program, and turn-A-leaf Thrift Store, alongside many strong community partnerships, VCI serves the needs of Valley residents and helps them thrive. These programs fulfill VCI's vision to make the Mat-Su Valley a healthier and happier place to reside for everyone.

For more information, visit or contact them at 907-376-5740.

Randi Perlman is the communications ambassador for Valley Charities, Inc.


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