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Thrift shop offers volunteer opportunities, good deals

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
For many people, thrift shops are an inexpensive way to find old treasures or vintage clothing, but for the volunteers of Pope's thrift shop, it's a way to form strong bonds of friendship.

"My husband is deployed on his seventh combat mission," said Nina Donnelly, a thrift shop volunteer and deployed spouse liaison for the Pope Spouse's Association.

"Volunteering at the thrift shop is a great way to help out and take my mind off of his being deployed. I have been doing this for two to three years on and off. It has become a central meeting point for me, and I have made some great friends by working here."
Another thrift shop volunteer, Sue McMichael, agrees.

"It is such a good support system," she said. "It's great for deployed spouses or people who are new to the area. They come and volunteer, and in the process they make lasting friendships. It's a win-win for everyone."

The thrift shop is sponsored by the Pope Spouse's Association, and with the exception of a paid manager and bookkeeper, all of the staff are volunteers.

Tech. Sgt. Beth Adams, 43rd Operations Support Squadron and only active-duty volunteer, finds being able to put aside her rank and just be herself when working at the thrift shop to be a refreshing change.

"When I come here to volunteer, I am not in charge of anyone, so it's easier for me to be myself," she said. "I feel I can just relax and be myself without having to worry about my rank. It feels nice for me to take off the suit and just be a woman. As a result, I have made really tight friendships."

Another advantage to volunteering at the thrift shop is the flexibility the manager, Marcia Braid, provides.

"Marcia is great because she works around school schedules, holidays and vacation time," Sergeant Adams said. "There are times when I can't be here because of other commitments, but Marcia is fine with that. People can volunteer for an hour if that's all they can manage; she (Marcia) understands, and she can always put you to work." 

The thrift shop has volunteers who have been there for a short time and those who have been there for years. Margarete Scott and Sonja Burgio are two volunteers who have been there more than 30 years. 

"We have customers who have been coming here for as long as we've been working here," said Ms. Burgio. "It's a nice feeling to have been in one place for so long."
"I like working here because it's something to do, and I feel like I am doing a good deed," added Ms. Scott. 

The thrift shop is not just a good place to volunteer; it is also a way to find bargain prices.
"We've had people moving into their first place come here and just about furnish their entire home with things from the thrift shop," said Ms. Braid. 

The thrift shop offers items from A to Z items such as clothing, bedding, kitchenware, books, CDs and DVDs, bikes, furniture, toys, etc. 

Ms. Braid said another good thing about the thrift shop is that the customers' money goes to plenty of good causes. 

"The bulk of the money goes to the base scholarship program," she said. "Other groups that have benefited are the boy scouts, the library, Santa's Attic, Fisher house, Airman Leadership School, Pope Elementary, Airmen Against Drunk Driving and a host of other programs." 

Additionally, the items that don't sell end up being donated to local shelters, churches, rest homes and other community outreach programs. 

"I call it a win-win-win-win," said Ms. Braid. The consigners win when they get money for the things they sell, the customers win when they get good deals at great prices, the community wins with the monies raised, and the earth wins when all of these items on sale in the thrift shop don't end up in landfills. 

The thrift shop offers many positive opportunities - from the staff to the bargain prices, and is now located at 400 Sonic St., next door to the base library. The shop is neat and organized with a pleasant atmosphere and helpful staff - something the manager receives compliments about regularly. 

"With the new facility, I get positive feedback all the time on how nice things are here and how friendly the ladies are," she said. 

Ms. McMichael puts it this way: "We're one big Air Force family here." 

Anyone who has access to Pope can shop at the thrift shop. The thrift shop does not take debit or credit. They will only accept checks with a valid DoD ID card, otherwise it is cash only. 

For people wishing to donate items, the donation bin is in front of the thrift shop; however, those wishing to get a tax donation receipt need to drop the items off during business hours. People wishing to consign their items should bring them to the consignment desk at least one hour before the thrift shop closes. The thrift shop's hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

Pope members wanting to volunteer should call the manager, Marcia Braid at 394-2427.