I think I’ve gone to one garage sale in my life. I was on my mission and my companion wanted to go. Personally, I’m too cheap to spend money on other people’s toss outs. So, I don’t go. Plus there’s that whole early weekend morning thing the sales tend to land on. I maintain anything earlier than 9:00am does not and should not exist on a Saturday. How in the world did I end up helping out at one last Saturday?
The youth in our church decided they wanted to do a service project. Fine. Something to help the community. Great. But what?
Somebody came up with the idea to do a garage/bake sale with goods donated by members of the stake (the whole church in town). Whatever money was raised would be donated to local charities. Great idea!
Another member of our presidency served on the committee and worked hard to get the details right. We didn’t know what kind of a response we would get in everything from donations to buyers. The response was very overwhelming. More goods were donated than we could ever hope to sell in our 3 hour window. The community willingly donated and we reached our goal… x2.
We were also able to donate a sizable portion to a local thrift shop that will give things away if a person can’t pay. But what to do with the stuffed animals?
Someone suggested we give them to the fire department. “The fire department,” she said, “gives the stuffed toys to children involved in accidents.”
So we separated the stuffed animals from the rest of the goods being donated. “Load them in my car,” I uncharacteristically volunteered. “I will drop them by the fire department.”
“If no one is there, just leave them by the door,” someone suggested.
We finished cleaning our mess and took our trailer full of donations to the thrift store.
I had been on my feet all day and didn’t feel like taking the stuffed animals to the fire department that day. Instead, I waited until Monday. While at work on Monday I thought I had better call to make sure it was okay.
“Hello,” I said to the person who answered the phone. “I have five garbage sacks and one tote full of stuffed animals we’d like to donate.”
“No, thank you.” To be honest, she sounded a little curt.
Hmmm. Maybe I called the wrong building. I dialed the other number.
“I don’t know anything about that,” said a cheery fireman. “But here’s the number you need to call to ask….” he gave me the first number I called. “Thanks,” I said with no intention of calling again.
“Maybe try the police department?” a co-worker who overheard my plight suggested.
“Somebody just donated a whole bunch of brand new teddy bears for that,” came the policewoman’s response. “We have no storage space.”
I had a car full of stuffed animals I really wanted to get rid of. This was turning into a project. This is the exact reason I don’t volunteer for things like this.
Finally, I found someone to take them. I’m not exactly sure what she is going to do with them. I think I may have just shifted my problem to her – which I do feel kind of bad about. Although I do feel a tinge of guilt for feeling relieved that they are out of my car.
Here’s the big lesson from this folks: stuffed animals are not sanitary. Most people do not touch them at garage sales (as EVERYONE told me AFTER they were loaded in my car). However, if you do have some to sell, mark them as “pet toys.” You might have better luck. In fact, the kind lady that took them off my hands said she may try the humane society with the left over ones from her project.
That’s how it is with anything though, right? It’s all in the phrasing. The phrasing and knowing when not to volunteer.