Oak Harbor nonprofit accepts uniforms for reuse

Debra Vaughn photo
Volunteer Rebecca Reid of Coupeville sorts uniforms at The Garage of Blessings.

Chief Scott Oram recently started a chapter of Sea Cadets in Oak Harbor, and the program is going well.

One snag — finding affordable Navy uniforms to outfit the kids involved.

Kristiina Miller, founder of The Garage of Blessings, has stepped up with a solution.

The Oak Harbor nonprofit is accepting used uniforms and donating them to the Sea Cadets.

“It saves me a ton of money,” Oram said.

The Naval Sea Cadet Corps was founded in 1958 by the Navy League and later chartered by Congress.

The program introduces youth to skills and experiences of the sea-going services such as sailing and seamanship. The Oak Harbor chapter is focused more on naval aviation.

Much like NJROTC, the kids involved drill and wear uniforms. A full complement can cost $150 new, Oram said.

The Garage of Blessings effort also cuts down on another problem with donated military uniforms — having them appropriated by civilians.

It’s a security risk if someone impersonates a sailor. It’s also a matter of pride. It irks many in the service to see the uniform not cared for well.

“People don’t like seeing homeless people wandering in them around town,” he said.

For those reasons, The Garage of Blessings has never given uniforms out to the public. This arrangement allows the nonprofit to get uniforms into good hands.

Oram swings by every few weeks to pick up bags full of uniforms, physical training clothing, shoes, sea bags, belts, ties and the like. And Miller also throws in shoe polish.

“We throw that in there because we thought the young cadets should learn to polish their shoes at an early age,” she said.

Those who want to drop off uniforms for the Sea Cadets can bring them by The Garage of Blessings, 3159 Goldie Road Unit A, Oak Harbor.