By Nina Mendes
News & Features Editor
A row of thrift shops and consignment stores line a particular strip mall off of South Tamiami Trail in Fort Myers.
Although they all may look the same from the street, one is making a significant impact that stands out from the rest.
Paws Crossed Thrift Shop is run by a foster-based dog rescue (Paws Crossed Inc.) that’s been helping animals find their fur-ever homes since 2015.
“Everything we do, every sacrifice we make, is to benefit dogs in need,” said Paws Crossed Inc. President Joe Abbotoy. “Being the president of a not-for-profit dog rescue envelops me with a sense of worth and purpose.”
The proceeds earned from the thrift shop support the organization’s mission of rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned, abused and neglected dogs in Southwest Florida.
Paws Crossed Inc. is solely volunteer-based, and some members donate additional time by working shifts at the shop.
The nonprofit often recruits FGCU students to volunteer for service-learning hours.
I’Riel Williams is the Adoption/Volunteer Coordinator for Paws Crossed Inc.
“No matter what a volunteer does, I can guarantee they’ll have a rewarding experience,” Williams said. “When you volunteer with us, you’re working on personal growth, whether that be critical thinking, interpersonal skills, resourcefulness and so much more.”
Williams also said that Paws Crossed Thrift Shop provides a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for all volunteers.
“The actions of this amazing team can change the life of so many dogs, as well as the people that love them,” Abbotoy said. “It fills our hearts with happiness and satisfaction while refueling our desire to help.”
FGCU senior Brendan Beardsley plans to volunteer at the thrift shop over winter break.
“I’ve been on the lookout for a service-learning opportunity that is local and flexible with my work schedule,” Beardsley said. “I would love to volunteer my time with an organization that gives so much back to its community. I want to be a part of that.”
With the shop only being a few months old, Abbotoy is looking forward to the new opportunity it will provide to Paws Crossed Inc. The organization is hoping to host adoption events in its storefront within the near future.
“The store allows us to have a setting to interact with the public in a one-on-one situation,” Abbotoy said. “It allows us to educate and advocate not only for the dogs but for the rescue community as a whole.”