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Church fundraiser taps into giving

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE — Call it the Great Garage Giveaway.
Members of First United Methodist Church are blessed. So much so that they want to share what they don’t need with those who do.
A Garage Giveaway is slated for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 30 at the church, 110 W. Church St., China Grove. Members are donating items to be given away.
Donations will be accepted and money is being raised by youth group members, who will sell concessions during the event.
The event is a fundraiser for the church’s Relay for Life team.
The Garage Giveaway is the brainchild of church-member Jennifer Caraccio. She and husband, Frank, are the parents of four children. Recently, Frank read a newspaper article about a family who was narrowing down the “stuff” they had to 100 items per person.
Jennifer wasn’t sure she wanted to be that extreme, but it made her think. At the same time, she was involved in a Bible study with a focus of leaving worldly possessions behind.
Hence, the giveaway event.
“The point of Lent is that before we can be filled up,” Jennifer says, “we have to be emptied.”
During this season of reflection, she’s taken 30 minutes each day to clean out closets, drawers and vanities. She made two piles — a trash pile and a giveaway pile. She decided to present the idea to her pastor and youth director for churchwide involvement — and they were all for it.
“If I have something I don’t need and someone can use it, I want them to be blessed by it,” says Jennifer, an executive director for Thirty-One, a home-based business that sells purses and accessories through parties and online sales. “Whatever monetary value I could have gotten from these items, God will bless me in other ways.”
Frank and Jennifer’s children have donated toys, games and clothing. Jennifer has added baby furniture, a recliner and kitchen items. Other members have told her they’re also donating clothing and furniture.
Jennifer has told them, “Anything you’ve had a stockpile of and need to get rid of.”
Jennifer says the “best and worst thing” about her house is the amount of storage space it has. She’s been working to whittle down what she doesn’t use or need for the giveaway.
She also notes that non-members can drop off items on the day of the sale. You may also arrange for items to be picked up by calling the church office at 704-857-9713.
She emphasizes that this event is not meant for resellers. “We invite people to come and take what they need.”
Jennifer’s daughter Brianna, an eighth-grader, is donating clothing, jewelry, stuffed animals, toys and unused toiletries.
Brianna says she’s glad to get rid of it.
Hope Oliphant, the church’s director of youth and children’s ministries, has challenged her four children, ages 7 to 15, to give away 30 items each.
“This is a good way to prepare your heart for Easter and get your mind on God,” she says. “We are cleaning out things not to put a focus on earthly things but a focus on God.”
Hope says she has noticed the increase in popularity of consignment shops. “That tells you there’s a need.”
“It’s a good conversation to have,” Jennifer says, “to give to people who are less fortunate and to give from the heart.”
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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