For many military families, summer is spelled “P-C-S.” While moving is never easy, it does provide families an opportunity to get rid of excess stuff.
Garage sales are a great way to make a little extra money from things you no longer need (or don’t want to pack along when you move for a Permanent Change of Station). But what can you do with all the stuff left over when the sale is done? Most bases have at least one thrift store on base, and donating is a double bonus. Not only do you help charities that benefit fellow service members, but if you itemize the things you donate, you can deduct the amount when you file your taxes.
Donating to an on-base thrift shop can be a real asset for families who move to the base.
“The store started as a place for helping families in need,” said Veronica Cage, who manages the Airman’s Attic at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. “We’re able to assist people who move here and haven’t gotten their household goods yet.”
Some base thrift stores, like the Attic, offer goods to service members in the ranks of E-6 and below at no cost. Donated uniforms are also available to service members of any rank.
Thrift stores on base can also be a good place to meet other families and learn about their new community. In Okinawa, Japan, the Marine Thrift Shop at Camp Foster is a meeting point for people who are new to the island — and it often offers items not available on the island.
“The thrift store provides great brands and variety that aren’t necessarily available out here on Okinawa at off-base stores,” said Kelsey Forbes, a chairman of volunteers at the Navy-Marine Cops Relief Society and frequent shopper at the Marine Thrift Shop, in a January story by Cpl. Janessa Pon.
On-base thrift shops typically give back to base organizations. The Camp Foster thrift shop donates to the Kubasaki High School Junior Reserve Office Training Corps program, in addition to other community groups. The Fort Myer Thrift Shop on the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia awarded 39 scholarships to U.S. Army family members, totaling $105,500 in 2015. It gave thousands more back in community grants to Washington, D.C.-area nonprofits with a 501(3) designations.
Volunteer dedication is part of the way on-base thrift stores are able to fold their profits back into the community. The Fort Myer Thrift Store is open between four and five hours a day, 13 days each month, and relies on 55 volunteers to test and price donated items, shelve them for sale and assist shoppers.