Alphabet Soup is a thrift store and non-profit in the heart of downtown Petaluma that has been a member of the community since 1994. The organization’s affiliation and connections with Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF) have continuously impacted students' education. In 2013, Alphabet Soup was able to expand their reach to raise more profits for PEF by adding a sister thrift store next door to the original space.
PEF is a program that creates community connections that help 13,000 Petaluma City Schools (PCS) students annually. The program is also a community-driven foundation that includes profits from corporations and events. The money PEF raises creates scholarship opportunities for students and funding for resource improvement for teachers and faculty.
Since opening, PEF has donated $3,583,182 to Petaluma City Schools. Because of this, students are presented with scholarship opportunities for college that can help fund their future endeavors.
Maureen Highland, an Alphabet Soup Director, stated that “for nearly four decades PEF has been partnering with community members and local businesses to bring innovative and engaging curriculum-based programs to local schools through our Impact Grant Program. We also provide scholarships to graduating seniors through the PEF Scholarship program. The implementation of both these programs is supported through financial donations and the amazing work of our Alphabet Soup store team!” Highland emphasized that community members should “SHOP - DONATE - VOLUNTEER at Alphabet Soup and know you are making a difference in your community each day of the year!”
Highland stated, “Our stores have Tip Jars on the counters. These donations from shoppers generate the funds to award the annual Alphabet Soup scholarship which is part of the PEF Scholarship Reception for graduating seniors from all 7 high schools (Petaluma High, Casa Grande High, Sonoma Mountain High, San Antonio High, Carpe Diem High, Valley Oaks School, and St. Vincent High).”
PEF also offers Impact Grants to PCS schools, up to $15,000 per grant, and Petaluma High is a frequent recipient of these grants. For example, this year a new 3D printer in the library has been a welcome addition, and funding for an outdoor classroom at the Wildlife Museumwildlife center has been highly beneficial as well.
This well-known thrift shop is a non-profit that has volunteers that come in regularly. “Many have shared their favorite things about giving their gift of time, talent and passion at the stores are working with their fellow volunteers which has created lifelong friendships, interacting with the community and knowing their contributions at Alphabet Soup Stores are helping to elevate the educational opportunities for all students in our community,” stated Highland. With kind-hearted volunteers, this store is able to connect with the community. Alphabet Soup has found a creative way to help improve and foster the growth of new generations through generosity and thrifting.