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THRIFT STORE BUILDS COMMUNITY AT LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE

Thrift store becomes a safe haven for Langley community ...

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“As Margaret Mead once said, never doubt that a small group of people can change the world,” said Ladies Auxiliary VFW Department of Virginia President Robin Milewski. “Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has ...”

The new thrift store on Langley Air Force Base may not change the world, but it has surely changed the culture of the surrounding community.

“The Langley community has become part of the VFW family,” said VFW Post 824 Commander Venner “Ski” Milewski.

The thrift store, which opened in April, is the result of the combined efforts of VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members, service members, military families and other community volunteers. It took more than 1,700 volunteer hours to get the store up and running.

Open three days a week and one Saturday a month, the thrift store accepts donations as well as goods on consignment. The ever-changing inventory includes clothing, sporting goods, books, shoes, fashion accessories, toys, furniture and more.

“It’s a great way for the Langley community to get good deals on the essentials and it gives them a way to make a little money for items they no longer use,” said Ski.

All profits are placed into a relief fund—money that goes right back into the base and local community. But the thrift store is about more than second-hand products. In fact, it’s become a safe haven.

“Some people just come in to sit in a chair and read a book,” said Robin. “It’s important to us that the store is a very welcoming place. People come in to talk or just to kill time. As VFW members, it helps my husband and me stay connected.”

The generous spirit behind the store has already touched many lives.

When the Milewskis were called to help with the “Operation Cinderella/Fella” Military Ball for the Inaugural 633rd Security Forces, they packed up and shipped close to 60 gowns. 

“We are not just about money, we are here to provide the assistance that makes being a military family just a little nicer,” said Robin. 

One night, Robin received a call from a military wife whose husband was killed in action. She needed a black dress for the funeral and didn’t know where to turn. Even though it was late, Robin quickly fulfilled her request and was even there to provide some moral support.

“It seems like a small gesture, but it meant a lot to her that we were there,” said Robin.

The thrift store has also become a sort of information center—a place where people can go to learn about VFW and its many programs.

“We’ve had several people come in and ask for help,” said Ski. “It’s so rewarding to look them in the eyes and tell them help is out there—that VFW is always here to help in any way we can.”

The Milewski’s are proud of the store’s success and are touched by the outreach of the Air Force Base.

“The enormity of this effort is humbling. It just goes to show that with a little heart, you can move mountains,” Robin concluded.

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