The Sgt. Leevon Ritter Support Your Troops Resale Center began with a few pieces of furniture, some clothes and some shoes. Three months later, both the center’s storefront and back room are packed with donated items.
“Things are going really great for us right now,” said John Valentine, the center’s manager. “We’ve had about a 200 percent increase in memberships, and response from the community has really been great.”
The center, located on Avenue C in downtown Killeen, isn’t just any ordinary resale store. Its mission is to help military service members and veterans from all branches of the armed services.
While the store is open to civilians, service members and honorably discharged veterans in need can shop for free or pay what they can.
The center is run through Operation Once in a Lifetime, a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides support to active-duty soldiers and veterans who served honorably.
The organization has operated in Killeen for the last six years, and opened the resale shop in December. Any profit the center makes goes to help those who serve in the military, Valentine said.
“We wanted to maximize the number of soldiers and vets that we are able to help,” he said. “That’s why we decided to open (the center) up.”
Since it opened, the center continues to grow. Valentine said he has about 10 volunteers to help him out, all of whom are service members or military dependents.
As the store continues to grow, Valentine said there are certain items the center is always looking for: twin beds, dressers, dinette sets and other kitchenware.
“These are items that these people really need,” Valentine said.
Later this month, the center will expand to meet yet another need of the military population it serves. Valentine said he is currently working to open a food pantry on the second floor of the building, which will stock food for both children and adults. He estimates the pantry will be open by the middle of this month.
“Things are growing, and we really want to be able to help as many (service members and veterans) as we can,” said Valentine, a 20-year Army veteran himself.