Part 1: Family-Centered Catechesis experienced through the parish rummage sale

This is the first installment of two parts retelling the story of St. Nicholas Rummage Sale of Evanston, IL.  which took place on Saturday, July 20. The Rummage Sale has gained the reputation of being one of the best sales of Chicago’s North Shore. 

The stretched of the imagination…a family-friendly activity which draws hundreds of volunteers of all ages within a span of two weeks.  This annual event generally begins the Wednesday after the Fourth of July concludes with the actual Rummage Sale taking place on the third Saturday of July. Pre-planning and furniture pick-up as well as a post follow-up extends the calendar, but not by much.

Let’s take a closer look at the many catechetical moments of the St. Nicholas Rummage Sale.  Our mission, offering hospitality to neighbors and strangers alike who come to browse and shop; all are welcome! The rummage sale draws hundreds of people from all over the area. Yes, throughout the 7 hours, in the sweltering heat and humidity 1,000+ folks shopped and browsed; truly and expression of church.

An extensive volunteer base lends itself to a successful rummage sale, but that is only part of it. The success of the rummage sale depends upon people donating hundreds of items to sell. Items of all shapes, sizes and colors; toys, clothes and shoes, household goods, electronics, tools, bikes, sporting goods, books and tapes, and plenty of furniture.

Marketing the Rummage Sale draws on the talents of the whole parish community: The first announcements  surfaced  in our church bulletin in May. In June announcements were made at all the Masses, flyers given to parishioners, information posted on social media and throughout the parish network.  We were charged to tell others the Rummage Sale is Saturday, July 20. Invite your friends, neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and let them know that all are welcome! Electronic platforms were set up for people to sign up to volunteer. 

It is typical at this time to go through closets, garages, basements, toy boxes, storage units and discern – to give or not to give.  Do we really need this? When was the last time I wore this outfit? Do I need to keep that toaster oven I seldom use?  Do these clothes still fit? Can someone use this?  Many people say, “if it hasn’t been used since the last rummage sale perhaps it’s time to divest, or to re-purpose.”  The rummage sale gave families many opportunities to look at one’s stuff, to take a closer look at , to take inventory of what is really needed and not holding on to items that they have outgrown. Children were asked, “How many times have you played with this in the past year?” Can someone make better use of this item? The rummage sale invites us all to declutter.   

Any successful event happens because people work together. So next came channeling  the energy of more than 200+ volunteers working about 12 hours a day beginning Wednesday, July 10 through Friday, July 19. They all found their little niche with either checking and fixing small appliances and electronics, tuning up bicycles, or categorizing, organizing and staging the hundreds and thousands of goods to be sold.  Moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents and kids of all ages – people-helping-people.  Preparation for St. Nicholas Rummage Sale cultivates relationships and builds community.

stay tuned for Part II….

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