PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- For one morning every three months, a vacant lot on the former Fort Ord is transformed into a bustling marketplace. Shoppers browse an eclectic mix of items, from clothes and toys outgrown by military families to souvenirs gathered during international assignments.

But beyond the bargains, the sale also helps form bonds among members of Monterey's military community.

At the Nov. 7 yard sale, military spouse Cassie Hamilton was selling items for a friend who was at home preparing for a Permanent Change of Station move.

"Her husband's away finishing his training and she's got a newborn and two kids at home, so I figured this was something I could do to help her out," she said. "I hope it all goes, I don't want to bring anything back."

Next door, the Bryant family was selling surplus items to help fund an expansion to their family.
"Whatever you're offering, we can work with you," Jeremiah Bryant, a Defense Language Institute-Foreign Language Center student, promised shoppers as they browsed piles of clothes and toys outgrown by the couple's two children. The family is raising money to adopt a pair of siblings via international adoption, he said.

Iffat Malik found items to furnish her family's quarters and made friends at her first yard sale, shortly after arriving from Pakistan with her husband, a foreign military exchange student. She became an active volunteer for the Monterey Bay Military Housing Mayor's Program, which runs the yard sale, and is mayor of the community's La Mesa neighborhood.

"I see this as an opportunity to learn the culture, and meet people," she said. "It was the best job, the best thing for me."

Community is what's at the heart of the yard sale, and the Monterey Bay Military Community Mayoral Program, program coordinator Chiara Leist said.

The all-volunteer organization for military housing residents at U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey and Naval Activity Monterey Funds uses proceeds from the sale to support its activities.
Funds raised by offering yard sale spaces and early bird passes support the organization's new resident welcome program, contests and activities, and the Monterey Military Attic, which offers gently-used clothing and household items to service members in ranks E1-E6 and their families at no cost.

"When you are a brand new military spouse, it's daunting going to a new place for the first time," she said.

Monterey's diverse military population presents unique challenges, especially to initial entry service members and their families, she said, citing the fraternization policies that govern interactions between faculty and students at the area's military academic institutions, Defense Language Institute -- Foreign Language Center and Naval Postgraduate School.

"If you can make one person feel at home and welcome, it's a wonderful thing."

The OMC Post Wide Yard Sale is conducted quarterly, typically on the first Saturday in February, May, August and November.

Spaces are offered to military personnel and families at a nominal cost of $15-25, and to civilians on a space-available basis. Clothing racks and tables are available to rent.

For more information or to volunteer, contact the OMC Mayor's Program at ordyardsale@gmail.com.