Fort Rucker Thrift Shop gives back to community
Nataya Hedman shops at the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 1, 2012) -- If the mission of the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop is to give back to the community, then the past two years can be called successes.

The shop has given out more than $125,000 to worthy causes in the Fort Rucker area, said Gina Menold, chairman of the executive board of the thrift shop.

The shop's largest ever one-time donation went to the Enterprise High School band earlier in February. The band is traveling to New York City in March to perform with the West Point Glee Club at the United States Military Academy, as well as visit the 9/11 memorial and attend a Broadway play. The thrift shop is providing transportation for the students while they are in New York City -- a gift totaling more than $8,000, Menold said.

"We felt like it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students," she said. "And it would give them a different view of military life -- from a younger perspective because of the cadets. Hopefully, it will shine an even brighter light on the military."

Though a good portion of the causes supported by the thrift shop are related to the military, the shop also gives to a number of causes outside the military realm. In the past they've given to local libraries, schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and animal shelters, Menold said.

"We want to be able to give back to the community surrounding the post because those communities have given so much to Fort Rucker. To be able to give back is phenomenal," she said.

One of the newest ways the shop is giving back to the community is through the Fairy Godmother Project. The Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club is partnering with the thrift shop to help lower-income girls go to prom, said Kim Roedl, a spouses club member and Fairy Godmother Project coordinator.

The club and the shop are collecting dresses, shoes and accessories for the event on March 17. The girls will be fitted for dresses at the thrift shop, with the help of personal shoppers, and will also have the opportunity to have their hair and makeup done while they are there, Roedl said.

A number of people have volunteered, but more volunteers are still needed, she added.

Roedl lived in Montgomery before moving to the Fort Rucker area. She remembers a girl driving two hours to a similar event in Montgomery.

"I wanted to be able to provide this opportunity for the girls here," she said. "I just wanted to make sure we helped the local community."

Another way the thrift shop gives back to the community is through a scholarship fund. This year alone, the shop is giving $23,000 to high school and continuing education students, Menold said, adding that is the most scholarship money the shop has ever given away.

One of the requirements to apply for the scholarship is volunteer time. Applicants must complete 50 hours of community service to qualify.

"It's about trying to teach the kids to give back to society and help others," Menold said.

Heather Yule says the shop's generosity is one of many reasons she shops there. "They have new items every day and you don't have to spend a lot. I know a lot of the money goes back to help out the community, so it's a good cause."

"You'd be shocked at some of the name brands we get in here," Menold agrees.

But even the things that aren't name brand are used for a good cause. The shop gives unusable clothing to a veterans group that sells it by the pound. Old jackets are given to military police to use in dog training, and the unusable bed linens and towels are given to the animal shelter. "Everything is used," Menold said.

In keeping with the thrift shop's mission, "Every single bit of our profit goes back out to nonprofit organizations in the community surrounding Fort Rucker," she said.

The Fort Rucker Thrift Shop can be found at the corner of Red Cloud and 5th Avenue. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. Starting in May, the store will also be open the first Saturday of every month. For more information, call 255-9595 or visit thefortruckerthriftshop.blogspot.com. Additional information about upcoming events and sales is available at www.facebook.com/thefortruckerthriftshop.

Page last updated Thu March 1st, 2012 at 15:41