On a sunny Saturday morning several members of the Kkachi Community Association, an organization made up of Soldiers and their spouses living in Area I, were standing around building 3107 between the commissary and Post Exchange on Camp Casey. The whirr of electric screwdrivers, the hiss of spray paint, and a young woman with a painted hand suggested an on-going improvement project. The volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the new home of Casey's Closet, a thrift shop to serve Soldiers and their Families in Warrior Country.
Set to open on June 3, the shop represents the culmination of 18 months of planning and well over 500 hours of volunteered labor from Kkachi Community Association members. The association is named after the black-billed magpie whose call, according to Korean folklore, is considered to be an omen of good news.
"The proceeds from the shop will be returned to the community. We will donate funds to community organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, Army Community Service programs, the Pear Blossom Cottage or any other group that works to improve Family life in Area I," said Lisa West, president of the Kkachi Community Association.
The association relied on donations of labor and supplies in order to get the little shop off the ground.
"I've volunteered my time by helping to build fixtures for the shop and collecting donations from the drop-off point on Casey," said 1st Lt. Jeffery West, of B Company, Division Special Troops Battalion.
The bright, cheery interior with whimsical stencils gives the shop a welcoming air. The cozy space offers the odds and ends that make Area I feel more like home to Soldiers and their Families.
"I have to admit that we didn't really choose the color of the building. The paint is what DPW had on hand. It was supposed to be an eggshell or off-white but it looks more like a yellow, I think it works anyway. All of the store fixtures were built or donated so our start-up costs were minimal," said Jana Adams, a volunteer with the association.
"But I think that people will enjoy the homey, kind of improvised feel of the shop," she added.
The need for a thrift shop has been felt by many Families moving into Warrior Country.
"When I moved here I really didn't know what to expect so I just packed what I thought were basic household goods. So not only was I was surprised by how many little things I forgot, like linens and house wares, but I was shocked to find out that half of my pans didn't even fit in the oven," said Monkia Lowery, a volunteer.
"What makes this shop so special is that it serves the community from within," she continued. "It can really help with the adjustment to life in Korea."
Casey's Closet and the Kkachi Community Association play a vital role in tour normalization as more Families call Area I home.
"Donations of clothes and house wares are always needed. We want to make the donation process as simple as possible so that in addition to collection points at the shop and across from the Warrior's Club, we are willing to take donations by appointment," said Lisa West.
This is a tall order for a staff that is already stretched.
"We're still looking for volunteers to help run the shop," said Lisa West. "It will be open three days each month, the first Saturday, and the second and third Thursdays, but keeping it stocked and organized will require more time and commitment from the volunteers."
For more information, contact Lisa West at caseyscloset@hotmail.com

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16