Monday, April 11, 2011

Trash into Treasure

So if you've asked me about my job at any point over the past four months, chances are I have mentioned that I am planning a mission trip for the youth of our church to go work at a school and an orphanage in Manila for one week this summer. You probably also already know how excited I am about this trip :) Mission trips are such a great opportunity for young people to experience a new place and to begin to understand how blessed we are as Americans, or even pseudo Americans here in Guam. Not to mention, youth here in Guam don't have the same opportunities that others back in the States do to go to things like summer camp or road trips. The problem, though, is that we have to fly anywhere we could go, which automatically makes the trip expensive and cost prohibitive for families, especially those with multiple teenagers. 

Being aware of this, we decided we'd host a few fundraisers to help defray the costs. You already read about the Valentine's Dinner we did in February, which brought in a shocking $1,000. Last year the youth also did a rummage sale to raise money for their retreat to Saipan. They brought in $2,500 from that event. My pastor warned me it was a lot of work, but I figured it was worth it for the funds we would raise. So back in January I started asking our church for donations to the sale. Several people who were moving off island donated whole truckloads of appliances, household goods, clothing, and electronics. Others donated their leftover garage sale items for us to sell. 

And one big score, a guy called our church asking us if we could use a donation of furniture. Turned out he was trying to unload his entire condo full of stuff before moving back to the US and getting out of the Navy. This enormous donation was a complete God send. We were able to sell his beautiful and practically new couch, bed, bedroom furniture, electronics, and video game systems on Craigslist in the weeks leading up to the sale. So before the sale ever started, we had already made close to $2,000. Pretty amazing start.

So the craziness of the actual sale started last Wednesday night. After the Lenten service, we moved the chairs out of the sanctuary and started hauling in donations stored in the garage. The following day, we loaded up two trucks of stuff from a friend's garage, where we stored donations when our church ran out of room. We then went and picked up two MORE truckloads from the used bookstore that recently went out of business (after 29 years of being open on Guam... apparently Kindle is to blame - sad!!). Church members continued to drop off more stuff and we got to work sorting like crazy.

The next day, Friday, we hosted a pre-sale for our congregation and parents of the preschool at our church. I got a call that morning from other church staff saying that people from the public had started showing up already---a day early! The local newspaper ran our press release about the sale. Apparently garage sales are the only thing that Guamanians show up early for! As you can imagine, there is a HUGE market for used goods on the island. It's so expensive paying to ship everything here, so used goods can also be sold for more money than they would in the States, and things like this rummage sale attract a lot of attention from the public. My worries were assuaged a bit learning that people knew about the sale and were already showing up.

Check out the gorgeous view of the ocean from our sanctuary!
That was probably the only big risk of the whole rummage sale idea - being left with all this stuff and having to store it again and figure out what to do with it all. Well, luckily, we had a TON of shoppers on Saturday morning! This picture was taken 15 minutes before the sale started... lots of early birds. We had some things left over, which we will unload at a flea market this next Saturday.

At the end of the day we counted our earnings and I was amazed and relieved to learn we had made $2100 more, bringing our total to about $4100 for the sale. Add this to the $2000 already in our account from other fundraisers and suddenly our goal of paying for the kids' trip balances was met. As the person in charge, it was an awesome feeling knowing we had reached our goal and that money would not be an issue to keep kids from going on the trip. But even more rewarding than that was something I had not anticipated ahead of the sale. Among our shoppers were avid yard salers, who we know will resell our items for profit at their flea market stands. But in addition, there were school teachers and librarians who were buying books and toys for their classrooms. There were also families who showed up and were buying things I would consider to be essential life items. Things my friends get more than they can use at baby showers. Things we can all go to the Navy Exchange and buy whenever we run out. Many of these families came back 3 or 4 times throughout the morning, and we ended up giving away many of our clothes, toys, shoes, and baby supplies to them. It was a really great feeling being able to help those so in need so directly. The cycle of giving and receiving for this particular fundraiser was truly remarkable. Everybody won.

And of course, wherever there are youth, there is always fun... and a goofy shot:

And more goofyness :)
No shortage of ridiculous finds

6th grader in a box

All in all a very successful weekend. And man am I glad it's over!


  1. So bummed I missed this! I don't doubt it was an absolute blast! Based on the pics your hard work paid off and the kids had some serious fun. =)

  2. Aaaah but we sold stuff you donated, so you didn't completely miss it :) And yes, the kids did have fun and were real troopers for the 8-hour workday!


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