GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — PCS season is in full swing. If you are new to Germany, or have PCS’d for the first time, the experience can be overwhelming. In addition to finding a place to live, the added task of coming up with the household goods you didn’t bring with you can make the experience more stressful still. There is a place that can help with acquiring those things you need, such as lamps, dishes, kitchen appliances, furniture and clothing. The best part, these things are absolutely free!
Freecycle is a program which provides donated household goods and other items at no charge to members of the USAG Bavaria community. The garrison’s freecycle web page is at www.bavaria.army.mil/freecycle.
“We have many repeat customers,” volunteer Traci Kaintz said.
People line up sometimes an hour before the facility opens. Often a person will come to Freecycle looking for something specific. Moms with small children can find toys, car seats, play pens, and clothing of all size
Household items can include pictures, silk plants, dishes, pots and pans, microwaves, toasters, mixers and vacuum cleaners. Some items will need to be cleaned up, but once you eliminate the dust, many are as good as new.
Jeffrey Heath, a civil engineer who heads up Public Works began the program in 2012. Heath attributes the concept to the wife of a senior army officer familiar with Freecyle from another installation.
Heath oversees the Freecycle program, advising volunteers who work there and helping when problems arise, such as where to find more space. Freecycle in Grafenwoehr has recently acquired an extra building to help deal with overflow.
“It’s a lot of work sorting things out,” Heath said. “If you get too much, you have to dispose of it.”
The Freecycle program has grown over the years, supported by volunteers, who change, as they move to other duty stations. As people find out about the service, they tell their friends, who in turn pass the word on to others.
The opportunity to obtain much needed items at no cost has proven to be so popular that the program is always in need of volunteers to help with sorting and running of Freecycle.
Currently, there are about ten core volunteers at Freecycle, in addition to Soldiers who sometimes stop by in the morning to help move heavy items. Numbers can vary according to other demands on the volunteer’s time.
Presently, Freecycle is looking for an additional building where they can store furniture.
“It’s a great program, it benefits the community and saves the garrison money at the same time,” Heath said.
In Fiscal Year ’16, USAG Bavaria spent $l.5 million dollars to dispose of refuse and recyclables. Items donated to Freecyle helps to lower the cost.
There are rules that apply to those who use Freecycle A person must be a current ID card holder and has to show their identification when entering Freecycle. New shoppers are asked to sign a paper which says they will not use what they have acquired for personal profit, such as selling the article, or shipping back to the states until they PCS. There is a thirty item limit per car, and taking more than one specialty item, such as a bicycle, is prohibited. Taking things from the yellow bin is also restricted, as they haven’t been sorted yet.
Normally, the staff cannot hold things for customers, though at Grafenwoehr Freecycle, Kaintz will ticket an item to be picked up later that day. If the item is still there at 2 pm it will be put back for anyone to take. Kaintz also asked that people do not donate things that are broken or unusable.
Grafenwoehr Freecycle is located in Bldg. 441, and is open each Tuesday and the first Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vilseck Freecycle is located in Bldg. 710, and is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the first Sunday of the month from 2 to 5 p.m.
Grafenwoehr Freecycle may be reached at: DSN: 475-5228 CIV: 09641-83-5228. Call ahead first, to make sure they are open. You can connect with Grafenwoehr Freecycle on Facebook at: Graf on Post Freecycle, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vilseck Freecycle may be reached at: DSN: 476-2728, CIV: 09662-83-2728…Call ahead first. You can connect with Vilseck Freecycle on Facebook at: Vilseck/Rose Barracks on Post Freecycle, or at email@example.com.