Airman's Attic lends a helping hand

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Imagine if everything you need for moving into a new home was given to you for free. It may sound too good to be true, but it is possible for active-duty and reserve Airmen, E-5 and below, at Dover Air Force Base.

The Airman's Attic is a volunteer-run base organization that offers Dover Airmen and their families new and used donated items.

"The Attic is a great resource which lends a helping hand for young Airmen who are single or just starting out with their families," said Master Sgt. Michael Arms, 9th Airlift Squadron first sergeant and the Airman's Attic military liaison. "It provides basic essentials for setting up a house with clothing, furniture, uniforms and more."

Similar to a commercial donation organization, the Attic helps support Airmen financially with all types of kitchenware, glassware, furniture and many other items.

"The Airman's Attic is one way to take a financial burden off our young enlisted families who do so much for us as a community," said Dana Mickley, Airman's Attic director, and wife of Maj. William Mickley, 436th Airlift Wing. "I feel this is my way of supporting the Airmen."

Everything is absolutely free to the Airmen and they can pick up as many as 20 items per month.

"We get anything from uniforms, to pots and pans, silverware and even bowling balls," said Mrs. Mickley.

Though many Airmen use the Attic for furniture, they have an overage of donated service uniforms, as well as children's clothing.

"The Attic is a huge support in helping out new families because children's items are expensive and children grow out of their clothes in a short period of time," said Mrs. Mickley. "Replacing items and toys can become costly, so families starting out with little ones really do appreciate our huge resource of children's items."

Sergeant Arms said he remembers picking up children's items during his first Airman's Attic experience.

"When I came into the military, my wife and I had a newborn child, and the Attic was a helping hand during my military career as a young Airman," said Sergeant Arms. "The Attic helps take the stress off for Airmen who worry about providing for their families so that they may focus more on their mission."

The mission isn't the only focus, as donors also work to take care of Airmen.

"A first sergeant's job is to take care of Airmen and helping the Airman's Attic is one avenue where we take care of our Airmen," said Master Sgt. Jason Kalinowski, 436th Medical Group first sergeant and former Airman's Attic military liaison.

One Airman expressed his gratitude for the Airman's Attic at Dover AFB.

"It's such a relief to know we have such great people who volunteer their time and donate quality furniture and resources for free," said Senior Airman Dennis Weiss, 436th Force Support Squadron. "It would be nearly impossible to afford all the furnishings for a household on an Airman's salary."

More than 100 Airmen have used the Attic so far and many have expressed they wished the Attic would be open more often, according to Mrs. Mickley, but it is not currently possible due to the amount of volunteers.

"We need more regular volunteers because it is definitely a place that's needed," said Mrs. Mickley.

Though the Attic does not have many volunteers, they have dedicated donors to help make the program successful.

"The Attic is successful because of the volunteers and those who donate their time, items and money for support," said Sergeant Arms. "We're always looking for donations of any items, as long as they're not broken and ask that those who use the Attic may return the favor by volunteering their time or donating items - giving to those who are in need."

Mrs. Mickley volunteers about 20 hours a week on average, coming in early and staying late to sort through the donated items. But the job doesn't stop there.

"All items need to be inspected, cleaned, stocked and organized," said Mrs. Mickley. "I meet every donator personally at various times of the day for donation drop-offs that may not be during normal business hours and brief squadrons about their opportunity to come to the Attic."

The Attic accepts donations from anyone willing to give. If civilians can not come on base to donate, they can contact the Attic and arrange their drop-off with Mrs. Mickley off-base.

"Our purpose is helping young men and women because they are crucial and part of our military family," said Mrs. Mickley.

The Airman's Attic is open Mondays from 4 - 6 p.m., and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. To donate items, volunteer, or for more information, call Dana Mickley at 677-3731.