Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photo
The Los Lunas High School Lending a Paw club held a fashion show before the ribbon-cutting ceremony of its free community thrift store.
Students at Los Lunas High School are extending a helping hand to those who need clothing, shoes or housewares with the opening of a free thrift store on campus.
The LLHS Lending a Paw Club held a grand opening for its innovative thrift store, offering free products to anyone who enters — students or community members. The store is stocked entirely from donations gathered by club members.
“We had what we called the soft opening last year. It was open just to our students and it was amazing,” said Jessica Baldonado, a teacher at LLHS and one of the sponsors of the Lending a Paw Club. “They got a lot from our store, but the next day they were here with bags of clothing. They would come and say, ‘Ms. Baldonado, these are clothes I want to donate.’ Everybody really pitched in.”
Baldonado, described as the one who “ignited the thrift store flame” by encouraging the students to start one at school, cut the ribbon to officially open the doors to the public, but not before a short fashion show.
The fashion show, organized by LLHS student Alex Ortega, had several students strut on a homemade runway made of butcher paper wearing an assortment of looks ranging from formal to casual to kids wear.
“Every item that is on the model has been hand selected from our store and chosen by each student,” Baldonado said. “So, just like the models on the fashion runway, if you see something you like, it is available afterwards, but you won’t have to pay thousands of dollars for it. It’s free.”
The celebration continued with a ribbon cutting, a concession stand, goodies and face painting while community members looked through the racks.
While the store opened for students late last year, the thrift store is now open to all community members, a feat that has been a goal of the club since their founding in 2020.
In addition to providing a space for anybody in the community to access clothing ranging from tennis shoes to prom dresses, the purpose of the store is two-fold, according to the club sponsors. Students keep inventory and will practice their customer service skills by still “checking customers out” after choosing their free items.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, assisted with getting the store up and running by awarding the club $8,000 through its community action grants program.
The LLHS Lending a Paw club is also asking for donations of clothing of all sizes and other household items for their store, so they can continue to offer this service.
The free thrift store is open to students during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It then opens its doors to community members from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday after school, and from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., every second Saturday of the month.
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.