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Thrift-shop personnel embody season of giving

Aleeza Avellar, 30th Space Wing thrift-shop bookkeeper, surprises Senior Airman Austin Johnson, 2nd Range Operations Squadron space systems operator, and his family, with two $25 gift cards, Dec. 21, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Base thrift-shop personnel recently demonstrated the true meaning of the holiday season, giving away $1,000 worth of gift-cards to families and low-ranking Airmen, at the commissary, Dec. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

Aleeza Avellar, 30th Space Wing thrift-shop bookkeeper, surprises Senior Airman Austin Johnson, 2nd Range Operations Squadron space systems operator, and his family, with two $25 gift cards, Dec. 21, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Base thrift-shop personnel recently demonstrated the true meaning of the holiday season, giving away $1,000 worth of gift-cards to families and low-ranking Airmen, at the commissary, Dec. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Phipps/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Base thrift-shop personnel recently demonstrated the true meaning of the holiday season, giving away $1,000 worth of gift-cards to families and low-ranking Airmen, at the commissary, Dec. 21.

The $1,000 was additional money earned by the thrift-shop, which circulates back to base Airmen, and was broken up into $25 gift-cards in an effort to maximize the number of fortunate recipients.

“We give back the money we make at the thrift shop,” said Carol Bedell, 30th Space Wing thrift-shop chair. “This year we had $1,000 that we were able to give to some Airmen at the commissary. We broke the $1,000 into $25 increments through gift cards. Our goal was to target E-6 and below, or 0-1 and 0-2 ranks, but if we saw a family of someone who is higher ranking, they would also qualify.”

Although it is commonplace for thrift-shop profits to go back to Airmen through unit activities, this year was the first year the shop accumulated enough extra money to directly give away such a large sum at one time. This additional money correlates to an increase in customers who can find anything from low-price furniture items to inexpensive, or free, uniform items.

“All of our active duty uniform items are free for E-6 and below ranks,” said Claudia Swingle, 30th Space Wing thrift-shop volunteer. “The Airman’s Attic also offers the same deal but I don’t think people realize we do as well. The prices are very minimal for E-7 and higher ranks, as well as officers. It’s ridiculously cheap, and we have plenty of items sitting here. We actually receive more uniform items than we can facilitate, so we want to encourage people to pick up anything they may need.”

For the recipients of the gift-cards, a seemingly mundane trip to the commissary turned into a pleasant surprise which will help them get through the financial burden of the holidays.

“It’s really cool that the members of the thrift-shop did this,” said Senior Airman Austin Johnson, 2nd Range Operations Squadron space systems operator. “It really does help us, especially around the holidays, and it means a lot to me and my family.”

The recipients’ appreciation was only eclipsed by thrift-shop personnel’s satisfaction in giving back to those who could use it most, during a time of giving.

“It really means a lot to me to have the opportunity to give back to people during a time of year that is really all about giving,” said Dawn Webb, 30th Space Wing thrift-shop co-chair. “Just to be able to bring some joy to their lives means the world to all of us at the thrift shop.”