Chestnut Hill church's annual charity drive a sale to remember

Posted: August 31, 2014

ONE MAN's trash is another man's treasure. And in the case of one Chestnut Hill church, it's also a way to help the less fortunate.

Hard to beat that kind of deal, really.

For the past few months, volunteers at St. Paul's Episcopal Church have been sorting through a veritable mountain of donated clothes, books and other items in preparation for the parish's annual rummage sale, a neighborhood mainstay that routinely draws shoppers from throughout the city and beyond.

Last year, the one-day sale, held the Saturday after Labor Day, netted $54,000 to benefit local charities that feed the hungry and care for the homeless, said Cathy Davis, chairwoman of St. Paul's outreach board.

"It's like the biggest thrift store you've ever seen," Davis said of the sale, slated for Sept. 6 at the church on Chestnut Hill Avenue near Norwood. "The beauty of it is how many volunteer hours are put into it and how much of an impact it has on people doing positive work."

A full staff of workers has been toiling since June 25, sorting and organizing the donated goods and turning St. Paul's into a makeshift department store, Davis said.

It's hard for her to put a number to how much has been contributed by people in the community, but she said that 15 rooms in the church are now brimming with items.

And there's a room for nearly every category imaginable.

Need a new pair of slacks? Head over to the men's clothing room. Kids antsy for reading material? The children's room is filled with books and toys.

Davis said that in years past, the sale's shoppers did a good job of cleaning out their stock. But if there are any leftover items, other charities usually express interest in taking them off their hands.

This year, for example, Hunting Park's St. James School has committed to buying any leftover clothes for children, Davis said.

Another outreach group wants any remaining business wear for women, which it plans to loan out to unemployed women going on job interviews.

"Until you see it all, you can't believe it," said Judy Smith, who's helped organize the sale since 1966.

"In this day and age, we're reusing things instead of just throwing them out, and that's what it gets down to," she said. "With this sale, the items are recycled in a nice way and if it helps people, it's even better."

Smith said the sale's popularity (and profits) have grown steadily during her tenure. And, to hear her tell it, it's easy to see why.

"People love a good deal, and people love to help the less fortunate," she said. "So if they can find a way to combine the two, it's a no-brainer."

The sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 6, and costs $2 to get in.

There's also a "preview night" being held the day before, aimed at antiques collectors and other professional shoppers (though the public is welcome, too), Davis said. That first look costs $10 per person and comes with complimentary wine and cheese.

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