TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
It can be tough saving money, especially with today’s ever-rising costs. Luckily, one organization at Travis Air Force Base in California has made it a mission over the years to help service members save money and provide them with any necessary items they may need for free. That organization is the Airman’s Attic at Travis Air Force Base, which is open to all service members, whether they are Active Duty, Reservists, or spouses.
“Sometimes members arrive here at Travis without items or are still waiting for their stuff to arrive from overseas or another state,” says Deborah Skelton, Airman’s Attic program director and facility manager. “We have a loan locker where they can borrow anything from clothing to household goods and we even have a food pantry that is stocked several times a month.”
Since 2018, Skelton has been managing the Airman’s Attic and offering support service members. The experience gives her a sense of joy and fuels her passion to help people.
“I’ve always been very passionate about helping people and have always volunteered with other entities from care homes to schools wherever I could get the opportunity,” said Skelton. “The Airman’s Attic came up with an opening to run the program and I took the opportunity to do that and make it my own, since helping people really brings me joy.”
While it is mostly lower ranking individuals that receive aid from Skelton and the Airman’s Attic, the organization is open to all service members of any rank. Some who used the Attic in the past, like retired Master Sgt. Chrisalda Jimeno, now even work as volunteers.
“After retiring, I wanted to do something worthwhile that could help out both myself by staying active and everyone else,” said Jimeno. “By helping, I feel like I am contributing to the welfare of the people here on base.”
The aid from Jimeno and others at the Airman’s Attic continues to help many service members, with some getting creative over the years with the treasures it has to offer.
“I found a working projector that was taken apart, but I located all of the parts scattered throughout the Airman’s Attic, including all of the necessary cords and tools needed to set up and put it together,” said Senior Airman Pierre Brewu, an Inventory Technician for the 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “Now I currently use it as my living room television, since I don’t have one.”
Along with such free items, the Attic also strives to make sure that members and their families know their services are available to them, no matter what the circumstances.
“We got a call one time to get a uniform together for a retired military member who was about to pass away or had already passed away,” said Skelton. “The family could not find his original uniform. We immediately told them to come over to the Airman’s Attic and get whatever they needed for his burial service.”
Despite the aid the Airman’s Attic offers, like other services, it is dealing with many restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and needs more volunteers once those restrictions are loosened. Some activities that volunteers can assist with include sorting the many donations the Attic receives and making sure they are of good quality and are acceptable for service members and their families. In addition, the Attic sometimes receives larger donations, such as furniture, and requires a team to help move the items indoors as well as help load it into the vehicle of a new owner.
“Debbie runs a good place and we make sure everything is in order, but we need more volunteers,” said Leo Jimeno, Chrisalda’s husband and another volunteer. “There’s only three of us at the moment and there’s a lot to do.”
The Airman’s Attic is located at 560 Hickam Ave. and is currently open every Monday and Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., as well as Saturday of every primary Reserve Unit Training Assembly from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Members can also contact the Attic at (707) 424-8740 or through the organizations Facebook page.