Situated in an old building off Pendleton Avenue on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), the Fort Lewis Thrift Shop may not have a flashy storefront but it provides a needed shopping alternative to JBLM families and also helps schools.
“For the past year and a half, the thrift shop governing board has really started looking at ways it can support our schools,” said Linda Walker, manager of the Fort Lewis Thrift Shop.
In 2013, the thrift shop gave more than $100,000 back to the community, including schools. Since January 2014, $42,000 has already been distributed. During the 2013-14 school year, Evergreen Elementary received more than $15,000. The donations helped new teachers with classroom supplies, a field trip to the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, math and reading center materials, special education interactive toys and counseling materials.
“Our PTA struggled to raise money this year so these grants really help,” said Diana Dix, Evergreen’s principal.
Staff from schools with at least 50 percent of students from military-connected families fill out paperwork indicating what their need is and can apply for a grant with the thrift shop. The thrift shop governing board reviews each application and decides whether to approve the funds or not. In addition to Evergreen Elementary, nine other CPSD schools have benefited from the grant program. Dix really feels like her school and others have great support from the military community.
“When the teacher receives a new item, they tell the students that it’s a gift from the thrift shop. The students then tell their parents and their parents continue to shop at the thrift shop. It’s a great partnership,” said Dix.