Fort MacArthur’s Airman’s Attic, connecting the dots for our community

  • Published
  • By Alanna Sakamoto, SBD 3 Public Affairs
  • Space Base Delta 3

The Fort MacArthur Airman’s Attic is sponsored by the LA AFB Top 3 Private Organization and supported by the United States Coast Guard Los Angeles and Long Beach Spouses Club. It’s available for active duty, reserve, national guard members, and their immediate family as well as military retirees, Terra Vista residents, and DoD staff. It’s brimming with resources: both tangible and intangible, as people are connected with not only needed items, but each other.

This isn’t your average Airman’s Attic. The homey location occupies the bottom floor of a cozy, two-story building on Fort MacArthur and is filled with donated items that are free for our members. Because of the sheer volume of donations, the attic is also currently open to military retirees, Tierra Vista residents, and DOD staff at this time. There is also no limit to the number of items you can take when you visit. In 2023, our Airman’s Attic gave over 53,000 items, and in the first four months of 2024, they have already given over 16,000 items to families in need.

It’s small but mighty footprint, increased availability, and unlimited items aren’t the only ways it is unique; the heart of the director and volunteers, make it a community that “connects the dots” between people and resources.

Cindi Smith, spouse of a U.S. Coast Guard Commander for port security units in the western region of the U.S, is the current director for the Airman’s Attic for the last four years. She started volunteering for the Attic five years ago, soon after she first walked into the building to shop for her own family. Her heart for volunteering comes from an experience early in her military spouse life.

Cindi explains, “My dad and sister had just passed away, we had moved unexpectedly, and I was not in a good place. There were a few military spouses that…said, ‘c’mon, you’re going site seeing; you’re going out with us,’ and they dragged me all over Washington D.C. I’m super grateful to them because they helped me grieve in a positive way and move forward…so I’m here to give back and do the same thing – the exact same thing. If the Airman’s Attic can make it easier and help people, that is what we want to do.”

There are 450 families registered with Airman’s Attic. Cindi and her team have helped families navigate through life events like house fires, divorce, death, and newborns. One such family, the Rodriguez family, who has been coming to Airman’s Attic since 2018 shared, “Cindi’s a great resource. I’ve seen people come here and need not just clothes, but appliances, making special requests for toasters, or anything like that, and it helps so much. She even offers parenting advice.”

The Airman’s Attic is a resource for people in all stages of life:

  • For military members just starting their careers and arriving with nothing more than a backpack or suitcase, Cindi and her team of volunteers have helped many obtain the necessary basics like kitchenware. Also, through the Attic’s partnership with Patriots and Paws, veterans, active duty, and reservists can find practical home furnishings at no cost.
  • For anyone transitioning in or out of base housing, the Airman’s Attic also runs the Loan Locker, a program that lets military families borrow basic kitchen sets, tables, chairs, etc. when the families either arrive before their belongings do, or when the belongings are shipped out before the families leave.
  • For new parents, the Airman’s Attic has a diaper program through the Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN), a veterans’ program at the USS Iowa, that offers free diapers for newborns to size six. The diaper program is made possible by one of the Airman’s Attic volunteers who goes to the USS Iowa at least every other week, picks up boxes, and brings them to the Attic.

The volunteers make it all possible, and the Attic is always looking for more support! Rhe’da Macaraeg, a military spouse and volunteer, shared her inspiration for giving back, “I love the people. Everyone who walks in here, we have similar stories, and we go through similar struggles. It’s nice to be able to help.”

Another volunteer and military spouse, Rebecca McCall, shared her testimony for the Attic, “When I first moved to Fort Mac, I was overwhelmed with everything that lay in front of me. I learned about the Airman's Attic and loved being there so much that I decided to volunteer. The Attic runs on volunteers, and I wanted to give back. It is a place where I could connect with other military spouses, talk with other adults, and let my kids play and shop without any financial stress. I am so grateful for everything the Attic has provided me both mentally and materialistically. Thank you to those, like Ms. Cindi, who spend their time helping us spouses find a place and people to connect with.”

If you are interested in volunteering, or have any questions, please email You’ll be joining Cindi and her team help the military community and greater Los Angeles area. Volunteers are required to be able to lift at least 30 pounds.