It has taken me a while to write this post. I know why, but needless to say, it is long overdue.
Last weekend, we had a garage sale. I have had garage sales before, many, actually, and most of them have been successful. Even if I make little to no money, I consider it a success, because I usually have cleared out a significant amount of junk from my house, decluttering, at least a little, and buying myself some precious peace of mind.
However, this garage sale was different. We were doing it specifically to raise money. As you may (or may not!) know, we are fundraising to help send our son to a private school. He has autism and this school, with it's 5 children and 5 EA's and 2 teachers and 1 program director is specifically geared towards kids with his challenges. It is the perfect fit for him. He has been there almost a month and he loves it. There is no fight to get him to go to school. We get positive feedback every single day that he is there (which to me, is a huge indicator of the school's primary focus. It is not that Sebastian necessarily always has great days. It's that they always find something great to talk about and reinforce with him. That is a huge change from where we were last year.)
Because it is a private school, none of it is covered by government grants or anything like that. It is not covered by my benefits. It is 100% out of pocket. My pocket. Unfortunately, my pocket is very often shallow and empty, so hence, the fundraising.
I have been selling crayon wreaths, with some success. I am now ready to move onto some new crafts, after I finish my last couple of orders. I have had friends donate their time and energy and their crafts to the cause. I have had people flat out offer me money (I politely decline. I am not a charity. I will sell you something for your money, but I don't need it so badly that I will take it, and give nothing in return. Although the offer is always greatly appreciated!). And the one idea that was put forward was the garage sale.
At the beginning of September, I put the call out to everyone I could think of. Friends, family, acquaintances. Come one, come all! Clean out your basements, garages, closets and toy rooms! Bring me your stuff! I will take it all!
And take it I did. I think in the end, we had about 12 different families donate to our little sale. My garage quickly filled up and the Thursday before the sale, we started to overflow into the back yard. There was so much stuff, I had no idea what we were going to do with it all.
I made a flyer and put it in all of my neighbour's mailboxes, explaining that we were having the garage sale and that we would take care of the advertising. If they wanted to sell, they should set up and do so. The more the merrier (also, I know the more sales we had on the street, the more customers we would attract.) On the actual day, I think we had 5 separate houses with sales going on, and I met a couple more of the neighbours on the street. They didn't actually have sales, but were grateful to have gotten the note and wanted to stop by and support us. So nice!! :)
The night before the sale, a friend of mine, my MIL, my mom and I started trying to organize this huge pile of stuff that I had accumulated. Some of the donations ( by no means all!) were:
- kitchen table with 4 chairs
- 5 TVS, everything from a small 10' screen, right up to a projection TV
- an air hockey table
- a massage table
- a beautiful wooden hutch
- literally hundreds of books
- handmade scarves and sock monkeys
- Christmas stuff, everything from a tree, a full set of dishes, to ornaments, lights and everything in between
- mini bar fridge
- countertop dishwasher
- water cooler
- HUGE tent. Really, thing is huge.
- Rock Band set..all of it.
- Bikes! adult, kid, trikes, you name it
- bed frame
- an xbox
- set of left handed golf clubs
- a truck bed liner for a 2011 Colorado
- 3 VCRs
- 2 DVD players
- digital camera, still in the package
I could go on and on. That doesn't cover a fraction of what we had. Anyway, we spent the night, until it got to dark to work, emptying the garage, trying to price and sort as much as we could. We called it a night, and agreed to start early the next day. I spent more time that night, making signs, getting breakfast stuff out and ready, making my floats and basically wishing for everything to go as well as humanely possible.
My Saturday started at 5am. I was up and working and moving stuff before it was even light enough to see. My helpers started rolling in about 6 am, and we got down to work. We tried to separate everything by category- so the Christmas stuff together, board games together, pictures together, TV section, craft section, kid section and so on and so on. We would joke as we would call out to each other "Would someone in electronics please give us a price check?" Seriously, we had an electronics section.
The customers started coming at about 10 to 7 in the morning. We were pretty much ready for them. We had alot of stuff priced, but couldn't do everything. By then, my kids were up and ready to start the day. Sawyer couldn't wait to join the fun outside and Sebastian was glad everyone was out of the house so he could keep watching TV uninterrupted. The fact that all of this, every bit of it, was being done for him didn't phase him in the slightest. I asked him to make an appearance, but it was way too much for his system to take. He hummed and flapped a bit, and headed right back to the TV, Timbit in each hand.
I won't give you the blow by blow details, but we worked this sale like professionals. We actually garnered a lot of compliments, both on the set up and organization of it, and on the number of people we had helping out. No one had to search for a sales person, there were a million of them. My volunteers, my friend and my family, my heart and soul- I could not have done any of it without them. I tried to say thank you as many times as I could through the day, but it was never enough. When I would watch Barb, with her apron on, working the sale, making it happen, chatting them up, and doing what she does so well- I was amazed. I would watch Dawn and Lynn and Nyree, lugging around boxes of books and pile after pile of games, working their asses off, laughing and joking and above all, selling- I couldn't believe that they were here and helping, just for me. My mother and mother in law, not garage sale people in the least, stepped out of their comfort zone and put their personal thoughts and feelings aside (for the most part anyway!! :) to make the sales, to talk the talk. Michelle, Teresa and Dawn (my SIL) all came out too, pushing people (some of them weird and crazy, but with money in their pockets) to buy the big speakers, to buy the receiver, to buy the video games, the DVDs, the shot glasses- whatever else it was that needed selling. My dad stayed on the porch, overseeing everything. He also went and got the pizza when we needed nourishment.
I had other friends swing by and show their support. My high school friend, Jen, had donated a ton to help us get going. Her lovely dad and sister came by to chat and shop and support us. One of my favourite people ever, Tony, came by with his daughter. She was shy and beautiful and seemed interested in my crazy redhead. He was wonderful and supportive as always. Friends and neighbours and complete strangers started coming and kept coming.
While the sale started slowly, it gradually picked up and at one point, got really crazy. There were people everywhere, and things were just flying out. At one point, I had someone make me an offer on my car in the driveway. It was our old beater. I had pulled it off the road last August, when Geoff quit, to try and save us some money. I kept hoping I would be able to put it back on the road eventually, when more money started coming in. Here it was, almost 14 months later, and the car wasn't even close to being used. So, I took the $200 he offered and off the car went. Hey, $200 is an eighth of a monthly tuition payment. Who am I to say no?
Eventually the day started to wind down. My volunteers, many of them having been here for hours and hours, started heading home, for naps, for nourishment, for peace and quiet and aspirin and hot baths. My dad took 2 loads of smaller stuff to Value Village. I called a man I met through the sale, and he came to pick up all the left over books and games, to be sold at Women in Crisis Book Sales over the next year. I posted some of the bigger stuff on Kijiji, put the TVs we didn't sell on the curb for free and moved as much as possible into the garage, to protect it against the coming rain (the day of the sale was beautiful, with blue skies and crisp breezes...I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day).
After all of that, I sat down on my porch with a real Coke, a slice of pizza and 5 baggies full of money. I started counting.
And kept counting.
At the end of it all, we raised almost $1,600.00. I was shocked. I counted it again. And again.
And then I put my head in my hands and I cried. With pure, unadulterated joy. With relief.
The week before, the month before, I had sat in the same chair, on that same porch and wondered how I was going to do this. How do I make this work? What do I do? I would feel the anxiety in the pit of my stomach, and feel the creepy worry up the muscles on either side of my spine. I would plan and think and worry, worry, worry.
And here, in my lap, was a full month of tuition. More than I had ever hoped and dreamed for. Honestly, I hardly dared hope for $500. That was what I really wanted, I really needed $350. I got way, way more.
Just then, I knew I would be alright. I looked at my trampled down lawn, with the neon price tag stickers buried in my grass. I looked at the empty spot in my driveway, where my car once stood. I looked at the drag marks, from everything I had moved in and out of my garage, the things I was still selling. Those were all good things.
Maybe it sounds silly. It was after all, a garage sale. By their very nature, they are silly. But it was so much more.
The fact that it was successful and by itself bought my son a whole month of education- astounding.
The fact that I had so many people show up to help, to donate, to organize, to buy, to hug me, to put money in my hands and my pockets...it was humbling. It was heart wrenching and heart warming at the exact same time.
I imagine it is much like being able to attend your own funeral. To see what people are willing to do for you. To see who cares enough to show up, to put in the hours, to back up the promise of being there by ACTUALLY being there...that's why I cried.
It's why I still cry, every time I think of my little garage sale.
Thank you my friends. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "new heights of love".