Our ministries with easily recognized success and fulfillment come from engaging the whole parish and making a difference for those in need. Our annual rummage sale is an example.
Work starts months in advance as parishioners clean out their cupboards and closets to find lightly used and no longer wanted items to sell. The parish hall is transformed into the central hub of preparation and organization for the event. Dozens of volunteers stream in and out daily for a week in advance to carefully sort through boxes of donated items. Clothing is meticulously hung on racks by size and style. Shoes and books and jewelry and household items are organized and tagged and priced. On the weekend of the actual sale, even more parishioners work as sales staff, security, welcome committee, and set up and clean up. The event is only possible because of the commitment and diligence of many, many people.
As the organizer of our 2011 Rummage Sale said, “One thing that always strikes me about the rummage sale is how much it brings together different generations, and how everyone is vital. I have really enjoyed meeting and chatting with members of the congregation who attend different services.”
Because this has been an annual event, we have a reputation in the community, and people start arriving hours before we officially open, some driving in from communities two or three hours away. One team expanded the offerings to include baked goods and other refreshments. Another team designed and tended a separate jewelry section. When the sale is over, the quality remnants are donated to Santa Maria Urban Ministries (SMUM) in San Jose. SMUM distributes food, clothing, toys and school supplies to the needy in the largely Hispanic community. This sale helps fill their warehouse with quality merchandise that they distribute over the next few months.
Proceeds from the sale have funded facility improvements used by children such as upgraded bathrooms, a door to the playground from one of the Sunday School rooms, funding for our Godly Play program, and support for Vacation Bible Camp.
Our rummage sale provides many opportunities for service and for fellowship. It brings the greater community into our facility and gives us the opportunity to share the love of Christ with them. The left-overs and the proceeds also further the ministry of the church by helping those in need.