Recently at Bloomington Area Birth Services, I hosted a rummage sale, completely volunteering my time. Together with my community, we raised over $550 that went directly to BABS. I did not do this work alone! We had many families donate their gently used (and sometimes brand new with tags!) items to BABS. Without these donations, there would not have been any type of sale. I'm sure for some families it was a convenient way to declutter their home, knowing they could bring over their bags and boxes of items to BABS. But for all the families, they made a conscious decision to donate to BABS. There are so many worthwhile organizations in our town that take donations to give away to families in need, and certainly families could have sold their items on their own, pocketing any money from their sale. I've done both- donated items to Goodwill, for example, and sold items independently to make a few dollars or recoup money on something I've purchased but no longer use/need.
I was really amazed how much we (speaking from an organization standpoint, as I am the Program Director at BABS) received in donations. Up until a couple hours before the sale, we had people still bringing in items. I was so thankful for how generous people were, as the sheer volume of items kept me busy at the check out THE ENTIRE TIME. Really, doors opened at 2pm and I looked at my clock and was amazed it was 3:15pm! Time really flew!
I was so fortunate to have volunteers for the sorting and organizing before the sale. Having never held a yard sale before, I really did not know what I was "getting myself into." I was actually hesitant how much to advertise the sale in advance, not knowing what we'd receive or how much we'd have to sell. And due to space restrictions, I didn't actually begin accepting donations at BABS until just a few days prior. Now that the rummage sale is over, I have a better idea how to prepare for and host the sale to make it more efficient for everyone.
But back to my volunteers, because these women were undeniably helpful. And truth be told, I could've done a better job recruiting and communicating with my volunteers. Regardless, my volunteers came in and gave of their time and energy to prepare for the sale. I am not kidding when I say we had hundreds, if not a thousand or more, of pieces of clothing to sort. Really. We had sizes ranging from newborn to juniors. And let me tell you, a garbage bag or plastic tote can hold A LOT of clothing. It took hours to go through boxes, bins and bags of clothing.
Looking through the clothing, we would stop and comment, "this is so cute!", or "look at how small this is!", or even, "oh my gosh, my son had this exact sleeper!". As a mom, I understand the emotional pull to keep so many cute outfits my children wore or to hang onto something because of the memories it evokes. And yet we had SO MANY donations of clothing that were undoubtedly special to the donors.
And finally, we had a great turn-out from our community. Again, having never hosted something like this before, I honestly had no idea whether we'd have many attendees. I really wasn't sure how to advertise well for the sale, and yet, we still had a great turn-out. Lesson learned, advertise early, advertise often, and include details for what you're selling.
As I sat at my table at check-out, I had the fortune to talk with and interact with all the folks that came to shop. Because many things cost $0.25, I did a lot of counting and multiplying and adding. And when someone would hand me their pile of clothes and learn it was $6, the look on their face was priceless. What started as a great way to raise money for BABS turned into a great way to support families. Simply walking in and shopping was a fabulous way to support BABS, and I was thankful for that! And yet, we had so many families say, "keep the change" after they heard the total. Knowing that the sale was supporting families made me feel so happy, as did knowing that it gave families an opportunity to support BABS. Maybe writing a check to BABS is just not a possibility, and I get it. But I am so grateful, as is everyone at BABS, for that extra dollar or two.
There are changes I'd make the next time I host a sale at BABS (yes, I think it's going to happen again, though I'm not sure when). But for now, I'm just reflecting on how generous out community is. This tells me that our community values Bloomington Area Birth Services, and this makes me proud. I'm ever so grateful to be part of an organization that goes above and beyond to support families.