Lee's Summit thrift store benefits veterans - KCTV5 News

Lee's Summit thrift store benefits veterans

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Thrift stores are a great way to save money and people can help out a great cause.

Whether one is looking for a new blazer for a job interview or pots and pans for the kitchen, anyone can get it all at the Green Vet thrift store in downtown Lee's Summit.  And for those shopping, the best part is all sales go toward helping veterans.

Tiki Denham is hard at work sorting through box after box of donations.  The Navy veteran opened the thrift store to make good on a promise she made to her father years ago.

"He said, 'Tiki, will you make me one promise? Always treat the veterans better than I was treated when I got home.' And I said, 'I'll do it, pop,'" Denham said.

"Pop," as she affectionately calls him, earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Army during Vietnam.  But he suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder and battled alcoholism, never knowing how to get the help he needed so badly.

"He was always afraid to go to the VA hospital because he didn't feel like anyone was there to help him. But I want them to see now there are people there to help them," Denham said.

He died much too young.  But now, Denham is honoring his memory through her nonprofit foundation, Green Vet.

It started out training veterans for "green" jobs, like deconstructing old houses and recycling most of the materials. However, when the economy sank, the jobs dried up.  So Denham opened the store to supplement the income.

Denham recently helped a Marine get a new outfit for a big interview.

"He got the job right away. It's actually paying $18.95 an hour," she said.

Even first lady Michelle Obama has noticed the program's success, sending Denham a letter thanking her for her hard work.

Now she is hoping this is just the first in a long line of success stories, as word spreads about her store and her cause.

For more information about how to help, click here.

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