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Geiger’s Counter: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

I heard the old saying invoked several times Saturday while helping out with a big yard sale conducted by the youth of our church. We volunteered some empty space at our office for storage of yard sale items after the church put out a plea for them. The sale was held to raise funds for a mission trip on the calendar for this summer. Many in the church extended family went to work on their spring cleaning projects and brought discarded items to our office by the trunk and truck load. I saw many of these items and helped unload some. I was amazed by the quality of some items and puzzled by the lack of quality of others. Many I would have thrown in the dumpster had I been gathering items for the sale but we stored them all and the kids were excited. Come sale day, we were up at 5 a.m. The youth and some dedicated parents and volunteers arranged things just so and, by daylight, the yard sale shoppers had arrived in earnest. Many of the things I thought would never sell were gone in a flash. Plastic grocery bags of clothing sailed out the door at the price of one dollar per bag. Even old shoes and purses were snatched up at cut rate prices. Old couches, treadmills, lamps, drill sets, toys – you name it – went home with savvy yard sale shoppers. I was amazed. As the sale wound down, volunteers came by and picked up the unsold dregs for donation to a local charity. There were a few things left that no one wanted and they were dragged to the curb for the trash man. As soon as they were dumped, more people came and scavenged through the discard pile. In the end, very little was left of the vast collection of donations. I have very limited experience with yard sales. Maybe they are all like this or maybe the economy has made yard sale shoppers out of those who once were not. If that is the case, I suspect you will see many more such sales and they will be well attended. The youth ended up making $2800 – about a quarter of what they need to pay for their trip. They were ecstatic. I came away from the sale with a treasure of my own – a vintage Weber kettle grill some 25 odd years old that had hardly seen a flame. I cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on it for my exhausted youth that night. They were delicious!

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