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Jill Goynes, a Yokota Air Base resident, comes to the Airman’s Attic once a week.

“It’s like addiction,” she says. She checks out what new items have come in since she last came. “It’s just as good as thrift shop,” she says. The only difference is that customers can take items for free.

Yokota’s Airman’s Attic takes donations from on and off base communities and in turn gives things away. Anyone with a Status of Forces Agreement ID is eligible to use the Attic, no matter of rank and service, including civilians, said Barbara Lucy, Family Services Coordinator. However, customers have to sign a contract saying they do not intend to sell the items and only take things for their household.

More than 3,800 customers used the service from July through September — and more are expected, Lucy says. The figure includes those who used the base’s food pantry, which gives to E-5 and below personnel.

The Airman’s Attic offers items from infant clothing to adult clothing — including uniforms for different services. It has small items from candles to furniture and electronics. Customers can take three plastic bags full of items per week or three large items such as furniture or baby cribs or any combination.

Racks saved specifically for folks E-4 and below offer large and rare items. They’re able to take one item per week from this rack, which does not count for the three items per week.

“What we try to do is put our best items over there,” Lucy said. “Especially if we get new electronics. If we get complete computer set, new goods, scanners,” she said.

Baby items are popular at the Attic, she said. Karen Miller comes to the Attic for baby clothes for her five and a half month old baby.

“He is huge and outgrows in a week,” she says. She says she takes baby clothes from the Attic and donates clothes that no longer fit her baby. She also has picked up a baby bathtub, stroller and car seats. “I save a lot of money by coming here,” Miller says.

Here you can also find military uniforms. “That’s a really good deal, especially the BDUs,” Lucy says. However, only active-duty personnel can take the uniforms and they must be for their service.

The Attic accepts all kinds of donations, but the clothes need to be clean; broken items are not accepted. “For the most part when people bring things to us, we will accept it,” Lucy said.

“Things we could use continuously are diapers and wipes because we try to give E-5 and below moms diapers and wipes once a month,” Lucy said. She says these are probably the only items that she could use continuously, besides volunteers. Military personnel man the Attic on Saturdays. But, Lucy stressed, “we could never have enough volunteers.”

The Airman’s Attic is currently having a naming contest to adopt a new name for the service. The contest ends Dec. 5. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate and a stereo system. The name will be announced during the Family Support Center Open House Dec. 12.

Yokota’s Airman’s Attic is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Okinawa Attic serves junior enlisted, families

KADENA AIR BASE — New to Okinawa and looking for stuff to spruce up your bare barracks room or small apartment?

If you’re an enlisted servicemember rank E-4 or below, the Airman’s Attic here has a deal for you.

They have microwave ovens, dishes, stereos, furniture, books, children’s toys and racks and racks of clothing. And it’s all free.

Located in Building 403, right across from Kadena’s Keystone Theater, the Airman’s Attic has a wealth of freebies for the families of the struggling junior-ranked enlisted airmen, Marines, soldiers and sailors.

“We’re kept pretty busy,” said Cindy Brackenbury, Family Services Coordinator for the 18th Wing. “People use us pretty much. There’s a steady stream of people coming in.”

The Airman’s Attic is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It’s the only place on a base on Okinawa where the items are given away.

Everything is free, but rationed, Brackenbury said. “We rate the items by a point system and limit what a person can take to 10 points of clothing or 15 points worth of household goods per week.”

All the clothing and household goods offered at the Airman’s Attic have been donated by military members and their families. Besides clothing, baby items are a big draw, she said.

“We have a lot of baby clothes, car seats and toys,” Brackenbury said while straightening a rack of clothing. “A lot of families have found this a great way to get the odd things they need but can’t afford.”

There’s no telling what will be available on any given day, she said. “We’ve even had computers, TVs, printers and scanners,” she said. “The only thing we ask is the recipient sign a contract promising not to resell anything for six months.

“Also, we don’t offer any guarantees,” she added.

The one thing the Airman’s Attic is short on is volunteers.

“We get new stuff in here all the time,” Brackenbury said. “We’re always in need of volunteers.”

One section of the Airman’s Attic is a “loan closet” for persons assigned to Kadena who need kitchenware, sheets and other small household items until their belongings arrive from their former duty station.

— David Allen

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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