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Pet Rescue Finds Niche In Repurposing
Gifts And Thrifts
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ASTRO Thrift and Gift Shop keepers Barbara Vasko, left, and Louise Sanders tend to the donation only Oakdale shop each Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Animal Shelter To Riverbank & Oakdale (ASTRO) rescues adoptable animals in the Oakdale and Riverbank areas. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

ASTRO Foundation continues to not only make its mark, but finds a way to make the most of its opportunities. The Animal Shelter to Riverbank and Oakdale (ASTRO), a 501c3 not for profit, is seeing continued success in its ASTRO Thrift and Gift Shop in Oakdale.

The 250 E. E St. shop, located just steps off the downtown North Third shopping area, is proving to be a dream come true for shop stewards Louise Sanders and Barbara Vasko.

“Everything is donated from the community,” Sanders said of the thrift shop inventory and its variety. “We take anything and any non-saleable items we take to Community Hospice.”

The small cinder block building hosts a variety of items including: accessories, patio furniture, home décor items and recipe books. The ladies shared they’re happy to take whatever comes their way, with electronics being the only exception.

“If we’re open, they’re dropping off,” Sanders stated of the community’s generosity.

“The people have been amazing about the donations and shopping,” Vasko added, “but who doesn’t love animals?”

Both women oversee operations of the store, which is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As volunteers they shared the overhead is minimal. The space was leased to the non-profit by the City of Oakdale for $1 per year. Doors to the retail space were first opened Thanksgiving weekend 2015.

“The City is so supportive and generous,” Vasko added.

The shopkeepers shared the Thrift Shop is the brainchild of key Board Member Jaydeen Vicente. Both admitted that while they may have been excited by Vicente’s vision, they never envisioned it would have such success.

“It’s just really mind boggling how generous everyone has been,” Sanders said. “We receive great stuff. We never really know what the store’s going to look like, because it’s always changing. That’s the fun of it.”

Also fun is getting to meet so many different shoppers, some regulars and some just finding the shop and entering on a whim to see what’s inside.

“It’s become like a club,” Vasko added.

In addition to the traditional Thrift/Gift Shop findings, the location also hosts adoptable cats on the premises. Adoption events are also planned for the location in the future.

“The ultimate goal is, we want to build a state of the art shelter in Oakdale,” Sanders said, “but this is where we start.”

A ‘start’ which the two women shared is aiding the ASTRO Foundation with being well on its way to building a nest egg which could help fund such an endeavor.

The long term goal for the not-for-profit is to build a no-kill shelter space where homeless pets may be placed until suitable homes are found. In addition the modern space would have a conference room for community events, as well as involve and educate students in humane education programs.

“I was born in Oakdale,” Sanders said of the known community generosity, “but to see this … it’s just a real blessing.”

For additional information or to make a donation to the ASTRO Foundation visit or ‘like’ them on their Facebook page ASTRO Foundation Inc.