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Annual Durham yard sale will help students and community

Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

700 Family Yard Sale

Michaela Christenson

Durham's annual community-wide yard sale will take place Saturday.

The Church of St. Thomas More has a bunk bed donated from a UNH sorority in its basement amongst copious amounts of secondhand items filling every inch of the church.  And yet another truck pulls in with more furniture, clothes, books and toys.

Steve Madden, co-organizer of Durham's Annual 700 Family Yard Sale, laughs at his surroundings.

"How do you fit 10 gallons of water into a one gallon carton?"

For the past two weeks, three churches in Durham have been filling with secondhand items in order to prepare for a community-wide yard sale to be held Saturday.  St. Thomas More Parish, Durham Community Church, and St. George Episcopal Church are each holding separate yard sales at their respective churches from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..  Each church also plans to hold a barbeque.

St. Thomas More Parish has been hosting the largest yard sale annually for about 30 years.  They usually have around 150 volunteers, and last year they raised more than $28,000.

The church uses the money that is raised to support church needs and to keep the food pantry stocked for Durham, Lee, Madbury, and Nottingham. Leftover items are given to charities such as Goodwill and also the Methodist Church in Berwick, Maine, which has a community closet from which community members can take anything they need.

Madden noted that due to the recent economic downturn, a greater percentage of earnings this year will have to go toward the church. He said the number of families the church's food pantry is feeding has doubled since last year.

"[This event] is such a ‘feel good' moment for the whole community and we have a lot of fun doing it," said Madden, who has organized St. Thomas More's yard sale with his wife for seven years.

The Community Church and St. George's have each been holding their annual yard sales for about five years.

One of the chairs of the yard sale at the Community Church, Diana Marzinzik, said that last year her church raised almost $13,000. This money is used to support the church along with charitable efforts such as the soup kitchen in Dover and Families First, a nonprofit organization supporting families.

Mary McCrae, the senior warden of St. George's also said that her church contributes a part of their earning to charities like Goodwill.

Madden said he often has UNH students come to volunteer with the yard sale. He said that for a few years he's had guys from fraternities work for him over the course of the two weeks leading up to the yard sale.

"This year we actually had a sorority donate that bed over there," said Madden. "And that is just fantastic."

All three churches have noticed extraordinary giving efforts.

"One woman in the community was moving to Seattle and brought in basically everything she had," said Marzinzik, "She cleaned out her house."

McCrae said that St. George's had limited time this year for planning the event because of construction being done on their parking lot.

"We had to limit the things," said McCreae. "We asked people to not bring certain items like computers but you know, they brought them anyway."

Madden pointed out that 30 years ago St. Thomas More church decided to have this annual yard sale the first weekend after Labor Day because of UNH students.

"This yard sale was really created for the students who come from far away and need furniture for their apartments."

Madden said he used to get a lot of Forest Park residents and graduate students.

"One year I had a UNH student who was from Africa come to work for me the whole two weeks," said Madden, "He didn't come to the US with anything but when he left this yard sale that Saturday, he had everything he could ever want."

Madden says he also sees that people are getting a lot of use out of the items they sell at the yard sale.

"It's so funny when we see some of the same items come back through two or three years later and then someone else can use them for a couple years. It's like a big recycling project."
 

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