Veterans Thrift Store needs community support to buy a new heating system

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Veterans Thrift Store serves thousands of vets in Spokane, but now they need the community’s help to turn up the heat on their mission.

There are three locations across Spokane, but it’s the Wellesley Ave. location that needs some serious attention. The store is 18,000 square feet and currently doesn’t have heat, making shopping uncomfortable and slightly unsafe for veterans, shoppers and volunteers.

“This is a place that helps them totally, but it’s so cold in here that it’s hard to be in here for a length of time, or you’re going to be really chilly,” said Denise Templeton.

Her husband is a veteran who served in the air force for 21 years. So far, they’ve been to the store twice this week and love supporting a store that gives back and helps those who have given so much to make America what it is today.

“We have a lot of vets out there who are struggling. Freedom isn’t free, and we need to support those who have fought for our freedom,” Templeton said.

Kevin Oxley runs the store. From a young age, he knew he wanted to find a way to serve veterans. Now, in addition to the store, he gives vets free haircuts, free handyman services and checks in with the VA Hospital in Spokane to see what other needs they have. Getting a new heater would help his mission grow greatly.

“I want to be able to put heat in the building that’s functional also. It’s a 40-year-old heating system right now. It’s just outdated,” Oxley said.

Oxley’s taken it upon himself to fix up the building that was an old dilapidated grocery store before, taking it one step at a time. But, the time has come where getting a new heater is essential. A GoFundMe page has been set up, and you can donate online or in person. They’ve only raised around $1,700, and to purchase a new heat/AC system, they need to raise around $65,000.

Every donation, whether monetary or physical, stays right here in Spokane, helping vets who may need an extra helping hand.

“People can come walk in our store and see where their donations are going, see what we’re doing, see the veterans that we deal with everyday,” Oxley said.

“If they don’t have shoes, if they don’t have a tent, if they’re sleeping under a bridge, Kevin always helps them,” said Eugene Brown, a marine corps veteran who now works at the VA Hospital.

Right before the pandemic, the Veterans Thrift Store started doing food pantries, as well which Oxley says have been in high demand during these times when unemployment and food insecurity are at an all-time high.