FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Volunteering at and donating to the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop not only benefits the installation, but also many Wiregrass communities.

Thrift Shop profits are returned to worthy causes in the form of scholarships and donations, said Donna Woodham, thrift shop bookkeeper.

The store regularly assists area organizations including the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, Relay for Life, veterans hospitals, Boy and Girl Scouts, Wiregrass Emergency Pregnancy Service, libraries, stray animal facilities and military Family scholarships.

Staff donates appropriate clothing for veterans and expectant mothers; blankets and pillows unfit for resale to stray animal facilities; and books to libraries, Woodham said.

"It gives us a huge sense of satisfaction," she said.

"It helps with the relationship between the military and outside communities," said Angelika Singleton, thrift shop volunteer coordinator.

The facility cannot run without helping hands, however, and volunteers are needed on a constant basis.

Any military identification card holder can become a volunteer, Woodham said. People can donate as much or as little of their free time as they wish. Parents who volunteer are allowed up to 16 hours of free child care each week at the child development center on post. If they choose off-post providers, they will be reimbursed at CDC hourly rates.

Air Force wife Melanie Tucciarone has volunteered at the thrift shop for the past five months. She encourages other Family members to join the team.

"It's a good cause. It's a good environment and laid back. You're busy, so time goes by quickly," she said. "It's a good thing for (military spouses) who don't have (paid) jobs. You make friends and it makes the time pass."

The thrift shop's mission ties directly in with the Army Family and Community Covenants by promising to take care of Families and partner with neighboring towns, said Mary Davis, Thrift Shop manager.

"The outside community becomes more aware of what's going on at Fort Rucker if civilians work with an organization like ours," she said. "We're sharing what we are making there with the outside communities and the military community. It gets distributed around."

Knowing her work helps Soldiers, Families and civilians is an added benefit, Tucciarone said.

"Local cities give us a lot in community support. This keeps military and civilian communities coming together for productive things," Tucciarone said.

Volunteer Carol Sanders said the thrift shop is the heart of the post community. After four years there, meeting and working with a diverse group of people is her favorite aspect of the job.

"It shows what Fort Rucker is doing for the community," she said. "There's a lot to be offered here.

Donations are accepted any time, and people may leave their used items in the shed next to the Thrift Shop. Items must be clean and in good condition, Woodham said.

People go through their belongings and find old, unwanted items to give away before permanent changes of stations, she noted.

Military ID card holders can consign items and make 70 percent profit from the sale, Woodham said. Consignment drop off hours are Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

"Military Families can make a little bit of money doing that," she said. "Some spouses use this as income."

Thrift Shop hours are Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The facility is open to the public and sales are tax free.

For more information, call 255-9595.