Sunday, June 21, 2009

Garage Sale Fundraiser

It was a busy weekend! Saturday was our annual community garage sale--one of my favorite days--and thankfully my mom was still in town from Seattle to play with the baby and help out in a million other ways while my husband and I got rid of some clutter. It's amazing how differently you see your house when you have a toddling, almost-walker. My Lady Liberty statue that has presided over my desk for almost a decade now seemed just too heavy and precarious when my son pulled himself up using the leg of that same desk, so she had to go. I'm happy to say she went to another teacher who plans to sit her on his desk when he teaches his students about justice. I love to see my belongings that I've cherished over years move on to new purposes and loving homes.

The most satisfying part of our garage sale this year was our bake sale for charity. We managed to raise $80 for our local Food Bank, specifically for a program called Kid's Cafe that supplements the free lunch program by serving meals to children who are at risk for going hungry at night. Being able to raise this money this summer was very important to me because I was unable to complete a larger fundraiser I had planned to do for this charity with my college freshmen this past Spring semester. I teach composition at the University of Kentucky and had planned my entire curriculum around the topic of food. One of our projects as a class (I taught 3 sections) was to write and publish a cookbook together and then sell it, along with baked goods from the cookbook and give the money to the Food Bank. Many of us had planned to volunteer at the Food Bank as well and, of course, we'd all be writing about our experiences. Just a month into out semester I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to quit. The fundraisers were all cancelled.

The good news is that my cancer was diagnosed early and, after recovering from a bilateral mastectomy in March, I just recently got the good news that I won't need chemotherapy. I'll be back to teaching part-time in the Fall and I plan on organizing a bake sale with my class once again. My little garage/bake sale was sort of a trial run and it went really well.

If you'd like to add a bake sale for charity to your next garage sale, here are some how to's:
1. Keep it simple.
I took stock of ingredients I already had so that I only had to spend a little under $30 of my own money towards supplies. I also planned treats around the hot weather and my limited baking time as a mom of an almost 1-year old. I made 3 batches of Rice Krispy treats, 1 batch of Peach Jam Oatmeal Bars, 1 batch of Cookie Bars, and I popped 4 boxes (12 bags) worth of Kettle Corn that I got for $1 each on sale.

2.Dress it up.
My mom is the queen of wrapping and presentation. She showed me how to cut wax paper into squares and then wrap each bar by gathering the two sides at the top, folding down a few times into a nice crease on the top of the bar, and then folding each corner in and and then behind the bar like the sides of a present. I also printed labels for the table using different colors and a pretty script font and I dusted off several bowls, baskets, and serving trays that we got for our wedding and don't use very often. I used craft scissors with a decorative edge to cut the tops of paper bags, which I then filled with popcorn and stapled closed.

3. Price with a goal in mind.
I had a hard time deciding on prices for the baked goods. You know how it is at garage sales-- someone offers you a buck for an antique dresser you've priced at $35. I had visions of eating Kettle Corn for breakfast for the next 2 weeks because no one would want to spend 75 cents. I ended up pricing the bars at an even $1.00, the popcorn at .75, and cutting the Rice Krispy treats into small squares and charging .50. I hoped to make $50 over what I invested myself and that's exactly what I did. I sold everything at full price with the exception of 3 bags of popcorn and often customers threw in extra.

4. Look around for other items you'd be willing to sell for charity.
I subscribe to a lot of magazines. Correct that--I don't subscribe to any, my mom and sister have given me subscriptions to a lot of magazines. I usually recycle them in some way (I take them to the YMCA with me, for example), but over the last few months, I've been throwing them all into a big box next to my desk. On garage sale day, I propped them up in a barrel and added signs asking for a 25 cent donation for every magazine.

5. Make the charity and the profits visible.
I positioned the bake goods and magazines right at the front of the garage sale so that I could welcome each customer and let them know what we were doing. I taped down several signs advertising the charity the money would go to as well as information about children and hunger in Kentucky. I also kept a tall, clear vase right in the middle of the table so that everyone could see how much we had already raised. Periodically I counted the money and announced to new customers how we were doing so far.

I had a lot of fun talking to people throughout the day about this charity. I learned a lot from those who are active volunteers in our community and I feel inspired to do more. At the end of the day, my house was de-cluttered a little and my husband and I had some money to help us with our own expenses, but we also felt good about helping children in our own city. If you decide to add a fundraiser to your next garage sale, please leave us a comment and let us know about it!

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  1. Kelly is so organzied and her bake goods turned out so beautifully. It was for such a good cause and I know everyone who bought something enjoyed the nourishment for a morning of yard sale hopping. I got to play with Ari all day and for me that was the best part of my visit!

  2. I love this post. It is so informative and inspiring. I wish I could have been there.