Sydney AveyDynamic Women — Changing Times
The Church Rummage Sale
I avoid stopping by rummage sales ever since I spent two years clearing sixty years of stuff out of my parents’ house. To my surprise, I enjoyed volunteering at our recent church rummage sale.
An annual event, the sale raises funds for mission projects. From my assigned vantage point near the door, I had the opportunity to welcome arriving shoppers, observe them as they shopped, and take their money when they left. I have a new respect for rummage sales. Besides raising money to help mission-minded people participate in short-term mission trips, or to fund a missionary’s particular need, I saw multiple benefits to the community.
What a rummage sale brings to the table
If you’ve lived in a house for decades, it’s likely your closets and drawers overflow with accumulated goods. The spirit to purge is willing, but the incentive to start is weak. What better way of lightening your load than to make a large donation of culled commodities to the church rummage sale?
- It’s for a good cause.
- You’re putting love out in the universe (someone else will take home and appreciate that darling throw pillow that no longer fits your decor).
- Should you misjudge what someone else might want, you won’t be the one who consigns it to the landfill. The committee will do that for you. (Keep in mind, it’s not nice to donate an item you know is broken beyond repair.)
In addition to attracting donors with stuff to stock the tables, the church rummage sale attracts people from the community who want a fun shopping experience.
Some folks show up on the opening day of the sale, the moment the doors open. They want first dibs on the good stuff that moves quickly. Others come the last day. They delight in being handed a box and told to fill it up for five dollars and take it home.
An outreach ministry
The camaraderie among the shoppers is heartwarming. “I look forward to this every year,” one shopper said. Another scooped up glass vases and jars. “I glue them together and make towers,” she said. “They look so pretty in my yard.” That prompted a lively discussion about an art form we’d never heard of.
The day I worked, mothers and daughters looking for something to do together came by. Some people dropped in more than once, returning with a friend or spouse. No one hurried. Shoppers circled each table slowly to make sure they didn’t miss anything desirable.
A young man on a work break found a gently used kayak. Negotiating a price that was a steal for him and a deal for us, he asked us to hold it until he got off work. When he returned and stuffed cash in my hand, we gathered around to say how happy we were that he scored the kayak. His eyes glowed. “I’ve lived here for three years,” he said, ” and all that time I’ve been wanting a boat. I’ll be on the river tomorrow.”
God’s love-your-neighbor economy
To put a sparkle in the eyes of a young mom who comes away with a dress-up costume for her toddler, or a smile on the faces of a budget conscious folks who discover something beautiful for cheap to grace their home speaks to God’s love-your-neighbor economy. And let’s acknowledge all the non-profits that do the labor-intensive work of redistributing a wealth of goods into the hands of people who need staples or desire a bit of beauty to brighten their lives.
We don’t price our merchandise. We explain that this is a fundraiser, and they should pay what feels right to them. Some folks object. “Give what feels good to you and what you think is fair to us,” I say. “That’s the sweet spot.” We made our goal.
© Sydney Avey