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Robins Thrift Shop, Airman’s Attic put new spin on the art of give and take

John Green, Airman's Attic volunteer, looks through the men's clothing available at the attic. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

John Green, Airman's Attic volunteer, looks through the men's clothing available at the attic. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Kecia Hardwick considers a pair of lamps for her use at the Airman's Attic August 19. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Kecia Hardwick considers a pair of lamps for her use at the Airman's Attic August 19. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Katrina Green, Airman's Attic volunteer, folds one of many uniforms available at the facility. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Katrina Green, Airman's Attic volunteer, folds one of many uniforms available at the facility. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Kecia, Jamar and Krystle Hardwick look over some kitchen housewares at the Airman's Attic Aug.19. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Kecia, Jamar and Krystle Hardwick look over some kitchen housewares at the Airman's Attic Aug.19. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Margaret Donohoe, Thrift Shop volunteer, puts newly arrived clothes out on the floor for sale. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Margaret Donohoe, Thrift Shop volunteer, puts newly arrived clothes out on the floor for sale. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Michelle Dupuis, center, and Sandra Meadows, right, check out customers at the Thrift Shop. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

Michelle Dupuis, center, and Sandra Meadows, right, check out customers at the Thrift Shop. U. S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- For young Airmen at Robins trying to stretch a dollar, or avoid even spending a dollar at all, they may have no better friends than the base's Thrift Shop and the Airman's Attic.

The Thrift Shop allows Airmen and civilians to sell items under consignment, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to Thrift Shop, and it offers a large variety of goods to be purchased at a fraction of the cost of purchasing those items new.

The Airman's Attic gives uniforms, clothing, household items and other necessities to Airmen and their dependents for no cost at all.

One problem though, is that the two buildings are currently separated, and the Airman's Attic, located in Chief's Circle, is not in a visible location. That will be changing in the near future, however, as both are slated to be moved into Bldg. 937 at the corner of Macon and Ninth Streets. A date for the move has not been set, but Sgt. Terra Grippon, manager of the Airman's Attic, said it should happen within a few weeks.

"This move will make it more convenient for those who use these two great organizations that serve our Airmen so well," said Col. Carl Buhler, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing. "We appreciate the work of the volunteers who provide a valuable service to help Airmen in tough economic times."

Joe Ballard, director of the 78th Civil Engineer Group, said the moves are being done because both of the current buildings are slated for demolition. The building that houses the Thrift Shop has been condemned, he said.

The Airman's Attic is currently located in an old home on Chief's Circle. At one time earlier this year its hours had been sporadic due to lack of volunteers, but in recent months more volunteers have come in and the published hours of operation have been kept.

Among those volunteers are Air Force retiree John Green, his wife Angel, and their daughter-in-law, Katrina. Mr. Green, who has two sons in the Air Force, said he got involved with the Airman's Attic because he knows there is a need. He just wishes more Airmen knew about it.

"We have a lot of people tell us they had no idea we were here," he said.

The Airman's Attic is always in need of volunteers and donations, he said. It will accept most any type of household items, including clothing, electronics and anything else that Airmen and their families might need. It is intended for the use of Airmen up to E-5.

The Airman's Attic even had a Jeep donated recently, and found an Airman in need of a vehicle. For legal reasons, the Airman paid $1 for it.

His daughter-in-law, Katrina, volunteers at the Airman's Attic despite being pregnant. Her husband is deployed, and with a child on the way the Airman's Attic has been a godsend for them. She estimated they have saved over $2,000 by getting items from the Airman's Attic.

"It's taken a lot off my shoulders with him being gone," she said.

The Thrift Shop is operated by the Officers' Spouses Club. Proceeds go to a variety of charitable causes, but primarily are used for scholarships to high school seniors entering college.

Vanessa Osborne, the bookkeeper for the shop, said last year the club gave away $15,000 from Thrift Shop proceeds. That figure may go up a lot this year, she said, as tough economic times has more people bringing in consignments to raise extra cash, and more people are buying those items to save. Ms. Osborne has long had a heart for thrift shops. At each base where her husband has been stationed, it's usually the first place she goes to in search of new friends and something to do.

"It's just a great, happy place to meet people," she said. "We are not afraid to get dirty."

Although people can make outright donations to the Thrift Shop, she said, most of the items they have are consignments. Civilians and military can consign up to 15 items per day, although Ms. Osborne said that rule is relaxed for deploying military.

Items that do not sell within eight weeks can either be donated to the shop, or the seller can take the items back, but must give the shop 20-percent of the asking price before doing so.

Not many people take the latter option, Ms. Osborne said.

"Most people, when they get their stuff in here, they don't want to see it again," she said.