Hugs for help

New thrift store in Hanna looks to aid those in need


August 19, 2020

Mike Armstrong

There are many items to choose from at the Aaron and Bentley Hugs thrift store.

A thrift shop located in the basement of St. Joseph's Catholic Church is the newest business in Hanna.

The Catholic church has had thrift shops in its basement over the years, and they were run by volunteers of the church, but it had been hard for St. Joseph's to maintain the store with staff and it had to close.

Sondra Clemens, who recently moved to Hanna, decided to change that. On August 3, she opened her doors to the public. Clemens named it Aaron and Bentley Hugs after her son and granddaughter.

She is still running it as a non-profit, but she has a new twist.

"I got the idea from Rose Dabbs (longtime Hanna resident)," Clemens said. "We are a non-profit and we hire people in our community who aren't able to get jobs, for many different reasons, so that we pay them to help people in our community that can't do things for themselves."

Clemens said Dabbs inspired her when Dabbs needed to have some wood moved that was too heavy for her. She wasn't in a position to pay for help and Clemens realized she could start a business that created money to help residents help other residents.

"We want to help the people individually," Clemons said. "Yardwork that needs to be done or shoveling snow. Maybe they need clothes because a house burned down, they need items because they just moved here, they need help moving some things. We want to help people with all that."

Because her business is new, she is putting out flyers where allowed and relying on word of mouth.

She said people that need help can call her or come in and tell her what they need. Clemens said if a person's needs are not at the store, she will write it down and hold it until the item becomes available.

The other facet of her business is to put all her items online so that some items may be purchased and other items people in need can chose.

Clemons has moved to Hanna to be close to her daughter, son-in-law and new grandchild.

"They had her in February and I came out here to watch her grow up," Clemens explained.

Clemens said she came from Arizona in March, but she was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

She said her business model means hiring people to help others and Clemens sees a real need for Hanna to have this operation.

"There is not a lot of employment in Hanna, and we hope to offer some sort of job generation," Clemens said. "We want to be a bridge for people that need help with a project of some sort, but can't afford to hire and employ residents of Hanna to help the residents in need."

Clemens said her children range in age from 33 to nine. She said three are adopted. Clemens said it has always been her nature to help others in need.

"I just want the town and county to know we are here for them," Clemens said. "We will try to provide everything we can to the people of our communities. Our motto is 'helping our community, help each other.'"

Clemens also welcomes people to Aaron and Bentley Hugs who just want to visit, but not buy anything.

"We are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so I welcome people that just want to socialize," Clemens said. "I know it is tough right now, so I offer a place where you can stop in and look around and visit."

Clemens said her goal is for Aaron and Bentley Hugs to be known as place that helps people in the Hanna community in need.

She said there is still a lot of work to be done, but in the short time she has been open, she is encouraged by all the friendly faces that have dropped by to see her place.


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