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Anatomy Of A Rummage Sale

Every time I think I’m done with my parish’s annual rummage sale, there is a sweet smiling lady who draws me back in. I just can’t say no to Miss Gretchen.

For years, my mother, and sisters and I were among the helpers who worked to get the sale ready each year. In its earlier years, the sale was held in the old gymnasium at St. Michael Church “out the pike.” Then the pastor felt sorry for us working in the summer heat in the non-air-conditioned gym and allowed the sale to be held in the school hall.

Each time the sale moved locations, it grew bigger and more work intensive. With the addition of the parish’s Angelus Center some years ago, the rummage sale found its permanent home in air-conditioned comfort. Unfortunately last year’s sale — usually held each June — was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As most of you know, the pandemic forced us to stay home and spend more time than usual cleaning out closets, attics and basements. The result was a huge amount of items donated to charities and church sales.

And as the vaccine became available and life as we once knew it began to take on some new normal, talk began about our church’s rummage sale resurfacing in 2021. After all, members of the parish and others had already been collecting and saving items to donate to last year’s sale that never happened.

As it turned out, this year’s event was held over not one, but two of the past June weekends because there were so many items donated. All of the volunteers who prepared and worked the sale knew this was an extraordinary event.

The hand of God was at work with so many donations and so many people coming to the sale to find everything from books to bells, coffee mugs to furniture and everything in between. The proceeds — totaling in the thousands — go toward helping the parish school. Many items also were donated to those in need.

It is amazing the things that people donate to sales. Some of the stuff is just that — stuff. Other items are once-treasured decorations from Christmases past and a host of toys outgrown by their owners.

Still more is best described as pure junk.

I’m not sure why people feel the need to donate a broken lamp or a non-working curling iron, but they do. It made me sad to place a $1 value on an American flag donated. Even harder to price were all the religious statues. How can you put a price on Jesus and His Mother?

After all was said and done, the annual rummage sales of epic status are in the history books. My biggest concern for future sales is something I’ve heard echoed at many other churches and charities — not enough volunteers to get the job done. Be a part of a legacy of giving by donating time to such a project — in any church, social and civic group or school. You just might make a few new friends, too.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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