Dee Gonzales has been running the Treasures Hospice Thrift Shop in downtown San Leandro since it opened 12 years ago.
From clothing to knick-knacks to old record albums, Gonzales sells just about anything.
With prices rarely reaching much than one dollar, she charges practically nothing.
It is a formula that has proven quite successful over the years, not just for Gonzales, but for hundreds of sick children and their families. Since it's founding in 2004, Treasures has donated close to $250,000 to the George Mark Children's House in San Leandro.
"In these little tiny increments what a difference they have made up here," Dr. Kathy Hull, George Mark's founder, said. "That's a lot of care for our families and children."
"They do amazing work there," Gonzales said.
George Mark opened its doors in 2004 to give care to sick, and often dying, children and their families in a comfortable, residential setting.
When Gonzales heard about the facility years ago, she thought it was a place she would like to volunteer so she and a friend drove out to the property and took a tour.
"Coming home from George Mark Home I had to pull over to the side of the road because both of us were weeping, 'This is not for us,'" Gonzales said. It turns out seeing parents lose a child was more than Gonzales could handle. She had lost her own son to heart disease many years ago but the pain still remains close to the surface.
That setback didn't derail Gonzales' plans to help George Mark. It just altered them. "I will help, but only in the capacity that I can," Gonzales said.
Having experience working in retail, the thrift shop idea appealed to Gonzales and a group of other women. They located a space, sought donations, and once even cornered the mayor in a city hall bathroom to make her pitch.
"When you find something you love to do, it no longer becomes a challenge," Gonzales said.
Gonzales gives a lot of credit to a dedicated group of volunteers who make it possible for the thrift shop to stay in business, pay its bills, and have enough left over each month to donate to George Mark.
Quite a bit of money, in fact.