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Airman's Attic goes above, beyond for Airmen, families

Stefanie Markin, Barksdale Airman's Attic manager, prepares
clothing items for Krystal Fly at the Airman's Attic here, Jan. 14. The
Airman's Attic is open for all Airmen and families ranked Senior Airman and
below.

Stefanie Markin, Barksdale Airman's Attic manager, prepares clothing items for Krystal Fly at the Airman's Attic here, Jan. 14. The Airman's Attic is open for all Airmen and families ranked Senior Airman and below.

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Most Airmen Attics are similar. They provide Airmen with everything from military clothing to kitchen essentials for no cost.

For the volunteers at the Barksdale Airman's Attic, providing the essentials is not enough.

"We are a family here," said Stefanie Markin, Airman's Attic manager. "We know all our customers and their spouses and children by name."

The Airman's Attic here started providing for Airmen and their spouses more than 12 years ago on the second floor of what was once called the Family Support building. Since then, the Attic has moved a few times and was even shut down for more than three months in 2007. In 2011, the Airman's Attic received a new home in a larger facility.

"This space has given us the ability to take on donations we haven't been able to in the past," said Markin.

One of the perks of the larger space has been the Attic's ability to accept large furniture items as donations.

"Not only were we given a larger building, but with donations and volunteers, we now have a shed and a fenced area to hold furniture that cannot fit in the store," said Markin.

Since he arrived on station more than two years ago, Senior Airman Robert Stover, 2nd Security Forces Squadron vehicle assistant, has shopped at the Airman's Attic at least once a week and has reaped the benefits of the larger building.

"When I come to the Airman's Attic, I am looking for a variety of things," said Stover. "The last space was crowded and items were tough to find. Now, this place is bigger and better with more of a variety."

Though volunteers are always pleased when customers find what they are looking for, the Airman's Attic is more than just providing clothing and household items.

"We look out for everyone that comes through these doors," said Shirley Barnes, 13-year volunteer. "We let them know we care about them and that they have a loving place to come to."

Markin and her volunteers pay attention to every customer's needs. Sometimes, this goes beyond the items on the shelf.

"They feel comfortable with us," said Markin. "There are many times we have provided a shoulder to lean on, or just an ear to listen."

Every once in a while, volunteers read between the lines and find ways to help a family in need.

"We have done everything from getting a housing issue resolved to providing full meals for families during the holidays," Markin said.

The welcoming environment and support is part of what keeps customers coming back.

"Everyone here goes above and beyond for each one of us," said Carina Neale. "Just a few weeks ago I came in for some items, and I was handed a chocolate piggy bank. They knew I liked chocolate and wanted to do something nice for me."

From silverware to evening wear, the volunteers at the Barksdale Airman's Attic go above and beyond to guarantee Airmen and their families have everything they need.