Early Thursday afternoon the church hall is empty except for rows of tables and stacks of chairs. By late afternoon, as if by magic, two tables are full of garage sale-ready treasures. After supper, the first teenaged crew members have arrived; the tables are re-arranged and labeled for “Women’s,” “Toys,” “Electronics” and the like. Meanwhile carloads of additional goods continue to pour through the front door. Sorting, sorting, sorting then pricing, pricing, pricing.
Early Friday afternoon with tables overflowing the first customers begin to arrive. But as they select their treasures, more donations continue to pour in. By Friday evening, even though scores of items have been purchased, literally thousands of items remain.
Saturday morning is a festival of browsing, searching, friendly banter and bargaining. “What are you asking for this set of golf clubs?” “Will you take $5 for this chair?” “Give us what you can; we’re raising money for the youth group’s summer service trip.” Scores of happy customers carry hundreds of items back out the front doors. At eleven o’clock “bagful for a buck” begins; this is especially appreciated by those with few dollars to spare. By noon clean up begins. That leather couch finally goes for a paltry $7 as everything else gets delivered to the Easter Seals truck or is stored for the partner church’s summer rummage sale.
By some miracle, instead of ending up in a landfill, thousands of items have found new homes destined to be enjoyed anew. We’ve reduced, reused, or repurposed while supporting our youth in their altruistic endeavors, and in the process we’ve strengthened community relationships. Can we find ways to expand this model and create a truly sustainable greater society? It’s time to let that miracle unfold because in this world of finite resources we really have no choice but to practice thoughtful stewardship. After all, this is the only home we’ll ever know. We are forever…Earthbound.