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Tanja Vass/Special to Fort Leavenworth Lamp

The Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop offers Community Support Grants to give the store’s profits back to the community. The deadline for applying is February 28.

For many families, being part of a military community like Fort Leavenworth means being ready to move to the next duty station at a minute’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 community benefits don’t end with finding a new home for some used items. Profits from the store are returned to Fort Leavenworth and the surrounding community through Community Support Grants awarded through the store’s wellness program.

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

“We survived COVID and that goes to show you what kind of staff we have here.”

Kendall herself has worked at the store for decades and can’t remember a time when the wellness program didn’t exist.

Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop, 1025 Sheridan Drive, is stocked with a variety of items. Staff said the store usually gets the most donations in the middle of the spring PCS season, but they said they appreciate the rush because it usually means more money to help local organizations through the Thrift Shop’s Welfare Program. Photo: Tanja Vass/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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

Porter said he doubts the store will get more applications this year.

The welfare program provides grants to area organizations that serve military personnel and military family members. The Senior Transportation Program, St. Vincent Clinic and the Army Community Service Food Voucher Program are among several other organizations that have benefited from the grants.

The staff asks that 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 store is like and maybe realize they can shop here, too,” Porter said.

The application form requires a description of how the funds will be used, the total cost of the project, and how the project will benefit the Fort Leavenworth military community.

After the applications are processed, Porter goes through the proposals with a committee of volunteers who work together to determine how the money is best distributed.

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

“We don’t always get to give what they ask for, but we usually try to give to almost every organization,” Porter said.

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

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

Four years ago, the Thrift Shop moved from the flooded basement of the trolley station to 1025 Sheridan Drive by Envision near the Sherman Army Airfield. According to Kendall, the store is about a quarter of the size of the previous location, but the quality of the products has remained the same.

“With the prices of things these days, kids’ clothes and toys, people are so smart to come here and get it,” Kendall says. “It’s just a great feeling when you can make someone’s day, big or small.”

Applications for Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop’s Community Assistance Grants are currently available at the store and must be submitted in person or mailed to Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop, PO Box 3003, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027 by February 28th. The store is open at 9:00. :30 am to 2:30 pm Tuesday through Thursday and the first Saturday of each month. For more information, call 913-651-6768.

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