Thrift store in Hibbing donates $10,000 to Silver Bay Veterans Home

By Linda Thiessen, Mesabi Daily Tribune
Veterans Community Thrift Store volunteers hand a $10,000 check to staff at the Silver Bay Veterans Home.

HIBBING — The Silver Bay Veterans Home was delighted to accept a generous $10,000 donation from the Veterans Community Thrift Store in Hibbing. This donation will be used to purchase a van to help transport residents to events and other social and leisure activities in the community.

The dream of a Veterans Community Thrift Store, or VCTS, began in 2016 with three veteran friends — Larry Pocrnich, Army, a medically retired Iron Range police officer; Bill Bean, Navy, a former veterans service officer; and Bob Fluguear, Marines, Iron Range miner, now deceased. They approached the Hibbing-based Salvation Army-run thrift store with an offer to purchase its local operations and physical space, continue to run and grow the business and ultimately direct all profits to veteran-specific causes.

The community responded positively to this idea; in fact, just one year into their work, the VCTS outgrew its location and moved to a larger site at 2003 First Ave. N. in Hibbing, its current home.

Robust ongoing donations of clothing, furniture, books, kitchenware, seasonable products, etc. take a good amount of behind-the-scenes time to sort, price and display. VCTS is open one week each month to accept donations.

According to Pocrnich, the more successful the sales, the more VCTS can consistently donate to organizations like the Silver Bay Veterans Home.

Pocrnich has a long-term relationship with the veterans home. In 2010 and again in 2022, he was the American Legion commander for the 8th District. Over the years, he visited the home for regular chats with veterans and bingo games. He also made the home’s wood shop/craft room improvement efforts his Commander’s Project and donated tools as well. A 19-year member of American Legion Post 222 in Hibbing, he said the home warms his heart.

“When it’s my time to need skilled nursing care, I’ve already got an idea of what wing I want to live in here,” Pocrnich said.

Silver Bay Veterans Home Public Affairs Coordinator Randall Walz has known Pocrnich for years.

“From The American Legion to the VFW, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and many other veterans groups, Larry has an unwavering commitment to serving our nation’s heroes. And the VCTS he helped co-found gets amazing support from individuals in our Arrowhead Region. They know about the care we provide, especially our niche in dementia care. Their support of VCTS’ work allows VCTS to support our work.”

Silver Bay Veterans Home Administrator Dani Donner notes that Hibbing is her hometown.

“I’m proud of Hibbing’s — and the surrounding area’s — kindness and desire to ensure our veterans live their best possible lives with us. I’m also so thankful for the generosity of the VCTS Board of Directors. We look forward to continuing to partner with them on future projects.”

To contact the VCTS, visit Facebook and search “Veterans Community Thrift Store” or email them at Watch the Facebook page to find dates the store accepts donations.

The Veterans Community Thrift Store also donated $10,000 to United for Veterans, an effort by the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota to raise funds for veteran-related causes.

The VCTS also donated $5,000 to the Hibbing-Chisholm Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.