MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
The Base Thrift Store raised and donated approximately $6,000 in charity, and issued $4,000 in scholarships this past year.
Operated by the All Enlisted Spouses Club, the store’s donations of clothes, household items and other goods are separated, cleaned and sold by club volunteers.
“One person’s junk is another person’s treasure,” said Particia Fierle, All Enlisted Spouses Club member. “The thrift store is a non-profit organization that gives all profits to charities that benefit military families.”
The store is about raising money for charity and giving back to others. Elderly, handicap, military and foster families all take advantage of the store’s discounted items, Fierle said.
The AESC chooses charities that the base residents have personally been involved with, Fierle said. For example, some of the volunteers are cancer survivors.
“I like volunteering here because I feel I’m supporting the AESC and their charities,” said Wednesday Davis, AESC member and store volunteer. “I enjoy working at the store and recycling things because I hate to see anything thrown out.”
Volunteers only need to work two hours a month to be part of the AESC and in turn receive a 50 percent discount at the thrift store. Volunteers can sort merchandise or help operate the store. Anyone who wants to help out can volunteer.
“Volunteering here is really easy because the store is very flexible,” Davis said. “I can just come in and work whenever I have some free time.”
She doesn’t consider it work but simply a way to give back to the base community.
“I enjoy meeting people at the store, and I feel I’m contributing to the base in a positive way,” Davis said.
The volunteers noticed the store gets a lot of new and modern clothing donations as well as gently used uniform items that young service members and their families really appreciate.
“We have several regulars who are so grateful for this place,” said Sabrina Baker, sales associate. “People are very appreciative of how organized the store is and the quality of the items.”
Many customers know the volunteers by name and greet them as they shop around the store.
“I love my job here,” Baker said. “It makes you feel really good interacting with the customers and seeing the possibilities the store is creating for many of them.”
Some customers tell the volunteers what they need so they can call them when the items come in. One foster mother needed a baby stroller, and the next day the store called her and let her know someone donated a brand new stroller.
“It’s more than just a store to us,” Fierle said. “It’s a way of being involved with our community. We are always looking for volunteers and appreciate any time they may have to offer at the store.”