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Holly Yager, a volunteer at Forgotten Treasures thrift shop, sorts through donations that will either be sold at the store or sent to charities in Naples and Iraq.
Holly Yager, a volunteer at Forgotten Treasures thrift shop, sorts through donations that will either be sold at the store or sent to charities in Naples and Iraq. (Lisa M. Novak / S&S)

NAPLES, Italy — Don’t know what to do with that "I (Heart) Three Mile Island" glow-in-the-dark T-shirt you found under the tree this year? The Forgotten Treasures thrift shop on the support site in Gricignano gives base residents in Naples the perfect outlet for re-gifting without the guilt.

"The money we generate goes back into our community," said Marci Edwards, one of the managers. "We support command-sponsored organizations like the Boy Scouts, Naples Tiger Sharks (swim team) and Friends of Animals."

The shop is run by the Naples Overseas Spouses Club, which also uses the proceeds for college scholarships. This year Edwards expects to have generated close to $150,000 in sales — impressive, considering the shop is open only two days a week.

A pool of around 20 volunteers sort, clean, price and shelve items.

"This store is so successful and unique because there are so many high-ranking people here that are world travelers and donate some very unique stuff. Some of it’s brand new," Edwards said, pointing to the store’s "Boutique Rack" packed with clothing still sporting original price tags.

A Coach watch and a few pieces of Waterford crystal are some of the high-end items Edwards said she was surprised to see were donated.

"I don’t even shop at the NEX anymore," Edwards said. "I shop here."

Other customers include local Italians that work on the base. A good portion of the money taken in by the store comes from the Italian community.

"They love to buy American things, and their money spends just as well as ours. They’re a huge part of our business."

Dollars and euros are accepted with a smile.

Bargains are scattered throughout the store in what can best be described as organized chaos. A pair of 37-inch televisions for $40 apiece sit at the entrance, next to a rack of DVDs and several pieces of luggage. Housewares, clothing and baby items abound. The electronics shelf includes VCRs, printers, a multitude of cables, and on this particular occasion, a new still-in-the-box set of Harmon Kardon computer speakers.

Not everything is top of the line, but little goes to waste. Once a month they purge the store of things that have been on the shelf a little too long. Customers can walk away with everything that fits into a brown paper grocery bag for five bucks.

"The items that don’t sell we give to local charities," said Edwards, who puts in 130 to 160 hours per week in the shop. Recipients include churches in Casal di Principe and the Centro Laila Orphanage near Caserta.

The shop also gives boxes of donated toys, clothing and shoes to Iraqi communities through U.S. military reconstruction teams.

And this time of the year, many would-be gift returns find their way to Forgotten Treasures. Dropping an item in their donations box just outside the front entrance is less daunting than spending hours in line trying to return yet another Magic 8 ball, or, for that matter, glow-in-the-dark T-shirts.


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