Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fundraiser Yard Sale


This post is a bunch of stories that all intersect into one.  I've been trying to figure out how to tell them and bring them all together.  Just know that if something's not making sense it hopefully will by the end.

First of all I have to give a shout-out to my two great friends, Rachel and Natalie.  We would never have met if I hadn't transferred my kids to their current school.  Even then we probably would not have met without some intervention by our mutual friend Jason who was a teacher at the school.  He brought us all together, along with our husbands, outside of school.  I can say without a moment of hesitation that the best thing about switching schools was that I now have these two amazing women that I can count as true friends.

Do you remember my post about our awesome school crossing guard?  The kids have been missing him a lot lately.  Frankly, so have the parents.  He's been fighting cancer and has gotten to where he just can't make it to the corner anymore to talk with the kids and wave at the cars and start our mornings with a smile as he helps everyone cross the street safely.

My family doesn't live right by the school the kids attend.  We choose to drive over to this school because it's worth it.  But most of the school community all know each other because they live right there within walking distance of the school.  That includes our crossing guard Mr. E and his wife, who teaches at the school.  A lot of them even go to church together.  This is how most people knew about Mr. E and his fight with cancer.

A few weeks ago my friend Rachel called and told me what was going on.  She asked if I knew how to throw a successful fundraising yard sale and if I'd be willing to help with one for Mr. E.  I was totally in.  This is my kind of thing.  Especially when it's for people as awesome as Mr. and Mrs. E.

We had a little preliminary meeting to gather resources and support and of course our friend Natalie was there.  The whole fundraiser pretty much became a joint effort between the three of us - with a bunch of back-up from other neighbors and church members and family members who helped manage things.

The day before the sale the three of us were scrambling through our own homes, trying to gather up a good amount of items to sell.  We had sent flyers home with all of the students at the school but so far the donations were pretty scarce.  Later that night donations of items and baked goods started pouring in like crazy and we started to feel hopeful that we could bring in a good amount of money for Mr. and Mrs. E. 

The day of the sale was overcast with a decent chance of rain.  Throughout the day the wind would pick up or we'd feel a few drops of rain - but we would just say a little prayer to please hold the rain off until 8 o'clock or to please calm the winds until things are put away.  We are all strong believers in the power of prayer.  We watched all day long as the storm moved around us.  All day long people would come and tell us that they were in a downpour in the city to the north or south of us and that the rain was coming.  Do you think it was a coincidence that the clouds broke open over us at 8:02 that evening, after most of our leftover items were bagged up?  We don't.

Awesome little miracles and tender mercies happened all day long.  People brought envelopes with donations inside.  People who didn't even know Mr. or Mrs. E would buy a cupcake or a shirt or a book, hand us five or fifteen or fifty dollars and tell us to wish them all the best.  Strangers who had lost someone to cancer would stop and hand us money when they saw what we were doing.

One mother who owned a boutique business set up her booth and let us sell her custom-made bows, skirts, hair clips and fairy wings and keep 100% of the proceeds for Mr. and Mrs. E.

Teachers from the school came and found a few small treasures then wrote checks for much more than they needed to pay.  

There were kids who went through their toys, sometimes choosing a favorite one, wanting to donate to the sale in hopes that their contribution would bring in some money for the teacher and crossing guard that they love so much.

A sixth grade boy came and asked Rachel if he could make a donation to help out the E family.  He then handed her $50 of his own money.  Do you know how much $50 is to a sixth grade boy?  We were all very touched by his generosity. 

One man was looking through the clothes for sale and found $27 in a pocket which he immediately gave to Rachel for the fundraiser.  He then paid a generous amount for the three items he purchased.

All day long people continued to bring goodies and items to sell.  Many of the donated items were an obvious sacrifice to those who brought them.  But everyone wanted to help in some way.

When we were cleaning up in the downpour at the end of the sale we kept finding bills on the ground.  It was as if it was raining money!  We had no idea where these bills came from.  The soaked bills we found scattered around the parking lot totaled about $35.

When the sale was over we went to give Mr. and Mrs. E the money we had raised.  As we started to count the money we were all in a state of something between shock and wonder and amazement.  We had hoped to raise a good amount but we had no idea where all of this money had come from.  Even as we sold things all day long and saw how much money came in we had anticipated a much lower amount than what it all came to.  Let's just say it was a whole heck of a lot more than you'd think could be earned from a yard sale.  Take how much you think we could have made and multiply it by a huge amount of support and love and then times that by twenty.  We were all in (happy) tears and filled with gratitude.

Rachel, Natalie, Me.

The thing about big projects like this is that someone always gets all of the credit.  Those someones ended up being Rachel, Natalie and I.  But there were so many more people who deserved to be recognized for their efforts.  Every person who brought items from their homes for us to sell.  All the women who made treats for the bake sale.  Everyone who came and shopped.  All the people who made monetary donations just because they could and they wanted to.  The men who helped us set tables out in the morning and who helped us pick up, load and unload large items.  The people who helped organize tables and keep things orderly.  Everyone who offered kind words of encouragement and support for the E family.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping him or herself."  It is true, serving others really does something good to the soul.  It teaches us lessons in love and reminds us that miracles happen every day when we remember to look for them.


Rachel said...

I love this Gerb. I love love love this!! And I love you!!

Anaise said...

This is an uplifting story on a day when I needed some lifting up. :)

Petersons said...

I need to look for the miracles in my life everyday. Thanks for this!

Richard & Natalie said...

I feel so blessed to have you two in my life. I feel even more blessed to be able to have been involved in this awesome miracle of service.
You did a great job capturing all of the miracles- big & small.

Mindy said...

What a powerful testament to the power of friendship, prayer, and the indomitable human spirit! Jason spoke to me once about how amazed he was at how seemingly small or simple choices can change things in such huge ways. Things like meeting gifted teachers, making new friends, and holding a yard sale. So grateful for all the small and simple things that made it possible for this to be such a successful effort. Kudos to the three of you and everyone else who helped out. You are all awesome.

Emily Trumble said...

Sorry I didn't know about the fundraiser before hand. I have LOTS of stuff I could have donated. I wouldn't mind still donating if that is possible (money, not yard sale stuff *grin*). It hurts my heart to know yet another person is fighting that terrible disease. Let me know ( or my NuSkin address if you still have that). I also have some box tops I have been meaning to throw in the mail :)

Heather said...

Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)

Angela said...

wow Heavenly Father answered your prayers and kept the rain away. How generous everyone was in their part of the fundraiser. I love your posts and I remember your lesson on tender mercies in our camp meeting