Church fundraising sales are great. If you haven’t been to one lately, or for that matter if you haven’t organized one recently, you should. Whether the venue is a brand new modern parish hall or an old drafty parish hall, the back alley behind the church, a large suburban church parking lot or the church grounds lovingly landscaped by volunteers, a church sale has a special feel.
The Big Church Yard Sale event organized by St. Helen’s, Surrey was a great example of this part of church culture. The St. Helen’s leadership had identified a need and that need was to make an intentional effort to fundraise to pay for the renovations of the church’s rectory. The long time tenants of the rectory had moved on in order that the home could be made ready for St. Helen’s new rector, the Reverend Stephen Laskey and his partner Jocelyn (Jos) who arrived from their last ministry position at Christ Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia ready for their new adventure at St. Helen’s, July 15th, 2014.
Organizer Kelly Foulds and her support team went out into their neighbourhood to add a dimension to the church sale paradigm and they did that by ambitiously advertising for vendors. Vendors were invited to purchase vending space at the sale for the bargain flat rate of $20 with the $20 going directly to the parish project. They advertised using every available medium, accessing the Public Service Announcements sections of newspapers and on-line information sources.
The sale got underway at 10am on the morning of August 2nd and by 10:45am a steady stream of shoppers browsed through the two dozen plus tables selling everything from sunglasses to decorative jewelry, from cakes & cookies to crafts, from clothes to appliances and more. The Parish of St. Helen’s had a section of the vending area where volunteers sold baked goods, hot dogs and second hand merchandise. All profits from these tables would go directly to the rectory renovation fund.
The hot dog concession was so popular that after 45 minutes into the scheduled 4 hour yard sale, Kelly Foulds had gone off to source some more wieners for the grill.
Representative vendors included entire families with a large variety of new and used merchandise who had secured three tables to a couple from Ontario visiting their children and grandchildren in Maple Ridge. When they travel this retired couple always brings boxes of CD’s and DVD’s and they visit yard sales and flea markets as a way of making some extra money to help offset travel costs.
On Tuesday, August 5th, Kelly reported to diocesan communications that the total proceeds raised was close to $1,050.00. In Kelly's words "I think this event was a successful fundraiser but more importantly, to use a favourite St. Helen's expression, it was a "friendraiser"."
So please keep the community of St. Helen’s, Surrey their new rector and his partner in your prayers as they begin their shared ministry together.
The Reverend Stephen Laskey will be installed as rector by Bishop Melissa Skelton on Wednesday, September 3rd at 7pm. The Venerable Stephen Rowe, Archdeacon of Fraser will preach.
Images: Top, successful transaction made by a vendor. Middle, the St Helen's parish sales area. Lower right and homepage, Jos Laskey grills the dogs. Lower left the couple from Ontario selling DVD's and CD's. Photos: Randy Murray