EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
A dark fog rose to the ceiling and started to encapsulate the room. Jagged swatches of what was once a full closet gracefully swayed beside reddish-orange embers of light. The bright wind grew larger by the second, sweeping away most of a young couple’s home.
Once the fire was put out and the smoke began to dissipate, an assessment of the life-altering event left two active duty Airmen in urgent need. The couple’s first sergeants sought help from Master Sgt. Heather Yates and Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Tapley, lead volunteers at the Eielson Airman’s Attic, where everything they needed in that moment was supplied to them free of charge.
The Airman’s Attic is a program on base available to service members in need of anything from a service dress uniform to a microwave that provides them an opportunity to browse a selection of pre-owned goods donated by the community. The Eielson Airman’s Attic is located next door to the USO in building 2264, and is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Airman’s Attic is open to active duty, reserve, and guardsmen military members of all service branches including retirees and dependents assigned to Eielson and the local area.
At Eielson, the Airman’s Attic is run by fellow active duty Airmen.
“Since the previous hours of operation were not conducive for the majority of Airmen to volunteer or shop, we hosted a poll on our Eielson Airman’s Attic Facebook page,” said Tapley.
The poll results highly favored a change in the Attic’s hours for the sake of convenience. Since the change, Eielson Airmen like Airman 1st Class Jamee Hines from the 354th Maintenance Squadron, are finally able to visit the Attic.
“If the Airman’s Attic wasn’t here, we would struggle for a little bit,” she said. “I don’t know what I would do if the Airman’s Attic wasn’t here. I’m just thankful that it is here and I have the opportunity to get the things that my family needs. This stuff is free. I mean, you can‘t find that anywhere else.”
Since opening up to members outside of Eielson’s active duty community, the Attic has received a huge influx of donations, but is still in need of volunteers.
“We currently have about five consistent volunteers,” explained Yates. “Our goal is to have a staff of 12 volunteers.”
Yates was grateful to be on the receiving end of Airman’s Attic donations when she first entered the Air Force. Now, she wants nothing more than to pay forward that which was given to her.
Refusing to let the Attic’s doors close, Yates took over just before the previous coordinator changed duty stations. Tapley jumped onboard shortly after because she too had seen the huge difference it can make in the lives of Airmen and families around her.
Tapley emphasized, “If you utilize the Airman’s Attic, pay it forward. We are families helping families, and we pay it forward by volunteering. If you’re in need, please stop by. There’s no limit on how many items you can take so, take it. That’s what it’s for.”
For more information or to volunteer, visit the Eielson Airman’s Attic Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EielsonAirmansAttic/about.