Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20

Yard Sale 2017: Strengthening Community and Faith

by Ann Forno

Greetings from the TJMC-UU Yard Sale team! On behalf of the team, I’d like to give you all an overview and some highlights of this very successful annual event that I was happy to be part of.

Our journey started in mid-June, with the preparation of the lower floor of Summit House for receiving and processing donations. I was assured that the place would be full by the time of the actual sale, but it was hard to picture. Furniture was moved, an astounding number of cushions and pillows were carried upstairs, and tables were set up down the length of Summit House 1. So far, so good!

Then came the gathering of volunteers. Walter Hoffman was very effective in recruiting people to take on the various jobs, and I just tried to keep up with my written version of all that he was tracking mentally! Donations then started appearing on the Summit House porch in mid-July, as requested, and we were on our way. The sorting and pricing volunteers– the true heroes here, in my opinion– got to work, making the tough call of a very black-and-white value to place on each and every item. (When I stopped and thought about that on the day of the actual sale, that each and every item at that Yard Sale had been handled, evaluated, and labeled with a price, I think I literally became woozy for a few seconds.) How they kept up, I will never know!

One week out from the sale, on that Sunday, we took over the Social Hall (thanks, y’all, for your patience with this) in order to set up tables–both actual and makeshift, thanks to the clever foresight of someone who thought to save some lightweight, hollow doors to use as tabletops, along with crates to hold them up. To accomplish this, there occurred a dizzying and very efficient process of lugging tables and crates out from the infamous “hole” (a kind of crawl space storage area, under the church, accessed from the playground) and carrying them into the Social Hall. There was much hubbub and chatter, trying to decide and AGREE on the arrangement of the tables, but we did it.

Our Yard Sale then took on what I consider its telltale look: a relatively vast and thrilling number of square footage of potential treasures! You see, it was last year at this time that I first attended the Yard Sale and fell in love with it. It may have had something to do with the fact that I attended on Sunday, aka Half-Price Day, and scored a number of vital items that I needed and would not have been able to otherwise afford, given my very tight finances at that time. But I knew, aside from that, that this was an impressive feat and a true labor of love, by folks, as yet unknown to me, for our beloved church.

After the tables were in place, all of the items were carried over from Summit House and set up on the tables. The arranging continued over the next few days, and by mid-week, the sale was ready. My anticipation was palpable.

Finally, the Saturday arrived, and what a sight it was. Volunteers appeared from everywhere. Furniture was carried outside. Food and drinks were set up. Cashiers readied themselves. Price lists were distributed and posted. Tables were scoured for unpriced, overpriced, and underpriced items. The parking lot was blocked off for furniture buyers. Everyone took their places, and at 8:00 am, those early birds were let in. The hum of shopping was lovely, and you can probably pretty accurately picture how the rest of the weekend went.

Fast forward to the Monday after the sale. A scattering of leftovers remained, and people were invited, via Craigslist and Freecycle, to come and take what they wanted for free. This very clever tactic ensures that there is as little left as possible to be transported to various places–Goodwill, the International Rescue Committee, and a daycare center that I brought our yarn to, knowing how gratefully they would receive it. The next day, the very unglamorous task of disassembling the whole shebang was accomplished by the not-faint-of-heart, intrepid enough to still have some drive left in them. Tables and crates were put back in the “hole,” furniture and cushions were put back in place, and final sweeps of all areas were made to ensure that not a trace was left.

That’s what happened that was visible. Here’s what I want everyone to know about, that you would not necessarily have seen. The spirit that moved everyone who worked on this event was, in my opinion, one of the best things about our faith. Everyone who contributed their time, energy, skills, trucks, expertise, and more, seemed compelled by something that I can’t quite name but is probably best described as conviction. There was no way they weren’t going to be there or do what they did. Another thing that I am taking away from this is the power of community. Every single person that I thanked for their work said, Oh, I haven’t done much. But together, look what all of that “not much” accomplished. Other accomplishments of note…. So many people who don’t belong to our church, passed through our doors and saw a little bit of what we’re about. UVA students came. We enabled countless things to be reused and we kept many things out of landfills, thus contributing to the changes in our lifestyles and environment that we all want to see. We strengthened our own community, working together, forming and building relationships, and spending time together. We modeled many great things for the children in our congregation. I’m sure you can add your own ideas about our non-fiscal triumphs.

Speaking of which….. It would seem that we raised over $4,000 from this event. So, on behalf of the whole team, let us give over 4,000 thank-you’s to the volunteers, to our church leadership– Christina, Wendy, Leia, Wik, Caroline, Alex, Scott and Julia– and to our members. I hope that you had the chance to experience this wonderful event and enjoyed it as much as we did.