Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

‘The World Famous Garage Sale’ builds more than parish community

by Father Kevin Oiland, for the Inland Register

(From the November 19, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

This tractor was just one of the sale items offered during St. Mary’s Presentation Parish’s “The World Famous Garage Sale” in Deer Park. The machine sold for over $4,000. (IR photo)

For the past several years, St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park has hosted a huge annual garage sale to raise money to pay off the loans taken out to build their new church. They call it, “The World Famous Garage Sale.” The sale was started by parishioner Donna Gyllenhammer, at her house. Each year the event got bigger and bigger. As it grew, a bigger hosting facility was needed. Parishioners got permission to use the barn at the veterinary clinic. Parishioners clean the barn, and then use it at no charge.

Volunteers hang signage announcing “The World Famous Garage Sale” in Deer Park, benefitting St. Mary’s Presentation Parish. (IR photo)

This year’s “The World Famous Garage Sale” took place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The 2015 sale brought in a record $18,618.

In addition to financial proceeds, some 100 parishioners – almost 20 percent of the whole parish – volunteered for various tasks, from parking lot duty and carriers to cashiers and baggers. Many of those who could not volunteer on site contributed by preparing and bringing food to the other volunteers.

Besides the financial gain for the parish, however, are two other blessings this event brings.

It is a parish event, and it brings parishioners together. One of the things I heard the most from parishioners after the event was how much fun they had spending time with their fellow parishioners, many of whom they would not get to know otherwise, as they often attend different Masses.

And this fellowship did not only take place during the event itself, but was going on the whole week leading up it, as parishioners banded together for several hours each day to prepare the barn. The whole experience has a positive impact on the growth of our parish community.

But it’s not just our parish community that is enriched. The larger community benefits as well. While the purpose of the garage sale is to raise money for our church, our parishioners always keep a weather eye out for those shoppers who are in need of a little help. We had a young lady, for example, who just started as a special education teacher, and she was looking for supplies for her classroom. She found a lot of things that would help her in her new job, but since she was just getting started she did not have the funds for all of it. When our parishioners became aware of her situation, they gave her all her items free of charge. It made her day!

On another occasion during the week, two of the parish’s men went to a woman’s house to pick up a large item that she was not able to transport herself. When they got there and began talking to her, they learned that her husband had recently passed away. As she talked, they realized that the Lord put them there because she needed someone to talk to. They were grateful that they could do much more for her than just help her get rid of some furniture. As they were leaving, one of the men, Deacon Perry Pearman, said, “It’s not just about the rummage, is it?”

After the sale, Meals-On-Wheels is invited to come in and take anything they think would be of benefit to the people they serve. Our parishioners marveled at how they knew their people so well that they could say, “Mr. So-and-So would love this,” or “Mrs. So-and-So could really use that!” It was edifying for all of us to see that, while we are simply trying to pay off our building, we are able to do something that has a much bigger impact than just raising money. It is a spiritually and communally enriching event.

(Father Oiland is pastor of St. Mary’s Presentation Parish.)

(IR photos courtesy of Father Oiland)

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