Instead of shopping the typical department stores for holiday gifts, consider visiting Housing Works, a non-profit that helps low-income people with HIV and AIDS receive affordable medical care. Besides the great deals on new and used merchandise, patrons can hang out and enjoy the elegant space trimmed with dark wood, brightened by soft yellow light at one of their most famous spaces…the bookstore.
“At least once a weekend we have a wedding here,” said Adam Blackman, the book store manager.
The store accommodates up to 300 people and hosts all kinds of events, including holiday parties and birthdays. Gatherings are commonly catered by the bookstore’s cafe and the Housing Works catering company.
All money spent in-store goes to advocacy at the city, state and federal levels to help the poor and homeless with HIV get back on their feet. That’s the role the bookstore, opened in 1996, plays in the organisation as a whole.
Since Housing Works started in 1990, it has opened mental, medical, and dental clinics in all five boroughs in New York City. With a focus on helping the homeless afflicted with HIV and AIDS, Housing Works provides about 200 free housing units to them, works to help them receive special benefits from the government, and assists in the lengthy treatment process, such as by helping them cope with the many side effects of the disease.
The organisation also raises money through donations, membership fees, and several thrift shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
There, prices range from expensive, name-brand merchandise—I spotted a pair of pants for $250—to cheap jewelry for a couple of bucks. For the holiday season, all thrift shops will be completely re-stocked.
The charity’s bookstore on Crosby Street in SoHo, will offer 30 per cent off all merchandise on Black Friday, then will offer a 10 per cent reduction throughout December. If you’re currently a member, you’ll get a nice 30 per cent off the whole season. Membership fees are tax deductible, and provide special discounts throughout the year.