Thrift Shop to award community assistance

Tanja Vass/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop is offering Community Assistance Grants to give store profits back to the community. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28.

Being a part of a military community like Fort Leavenworth for many families means being ready to move onto the next duty station at a moment’s notice. Donating items to the Thrift Shop that don’t make the cut during PCS season is a way for people to help give back to the community.

At the Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop, the benefits to the community do not end with finding a new home for some used goods. The profits from the store are directed back into Fort Leavenworth and the surrounding community through Community Assistance Grants awarded through the shop’s welfare program.

The Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop has been in operation for many years. Thrift Shop Manager Mary Kendall said she attributes the shop’s success to the dedicated volunteers and employees.

“We survived COVID, and that’s to show you what kind of personnel we have here.”

Kendall herself has been working at the store for decades and cannot remember a time when the welfare program did not exist.

The Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop, 1025 Sheridan Drive, is stocked with a variety of items. Staff said the shop usually receives the most donations in the midst of the springtime PCS season, but they said they appreciate the rush, because it usually means more money to aid local organizations through the Thrift Shop’s Welfare Program. Photo by Tanja Vass/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“During (the pandemic) — because the Thrift Shop was closed for quite a long time and then when we reopened, it was on a very limited basis — we did have to suspend our welfare program for a year, so last year (was) the first year that we got back to it, and not all of the organizations realized that we were doing it,” Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop Welfare Chairperson Sue Porter said. “Last year (we had) 14 organizations, but in the past, we’ve had probably 25.”

Porter said she suspects this year the shop will receive more applications.

The welfare program awards grants to area organizations that serve the military and military family members. The Senior Transportation Program, Saint Vincent Clinic and Army Community Service’s food voucher program are among several other organizations that have benefited from the grants.

Staff ask that the applications be picked up in person at the Thrift Shop so applicants can see what the store has to offer.

“We want them to see what our shop is and maybe realize that they can also shop here,” Porter said.

The application form asks for a description of how the funds would be used, the overall cost of the project, and how the project will benefit the military community at Fort Leavenworth.

Once the applications are processed, Porter goes over the proposals with a committee of volunteers who work together to determine how the money would best be distributed.

Assistant Thrift Shop Manager Astrid Davis rings up camping chairs for friends Tobias McConnell and Blaise Timmons Jan. 17 at the Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop. The Thrift Shop awards Community Assistance Grants using money earned through Thrift Shop sales. Grant applications are currently available to eligible organizations and are due by Feb. 28. Photo by Tanja Vass/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“We are not always able to give what they ask for, but usually we try to give to just about all of the organizations,” Porter said.

From there, the committee meets with the welfare program board for final approval.

“We’ve had some good years and some bad years. I think one of our best years we had something like $45,000 that we gave to the community, and then when we moved here (to 1025 Sheridan Drive) we had to sort of revamp and start over,” Kendall said.

Four years ago, the Thrift Shop moved from the flood-prone basement of the Trolley Station to 1025 Sheridan Drive by Envision near Sherman Army Airfield. According to Kendall, the store is about a quarter of the size of the previous location, but the quality of the goods has remained the same.

“With the price of things out there nowadays, and the kids’ clothing and toys, people are so smart to come here and get it,” Kendall said. “It’s just a good feeling when you can make someone’s day, either through a big thing or a little thing.”

The applications for the Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop’s Community Assistance Grants are currently available at the shop and must be submitted in person or mailed to Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop, P.O. Box 3003, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027 by Feb. 28. The store is open 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and the first Saturday of every month. Call 913-651-6768 for more information.

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