My mother taught me that giving of oneself to help others less fortunate or in need is a fundamental of life. It has never been “should I give” or “should I volunteer,” but rather “how much can I give” and “how often can I volunteer.” Working with various philanthropies for the past 20 plus years one would think that I had gotten used to the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping others, but this is not so. I am constantly amazed at what huge differences small gestures can make in the lives of others, and am often moved to tears. The Provisional Class Rummage Sale last May, Trinkets & Treasures, gave my fellow provisionals and me many of these wonderful, tear-jerking moments.
Many of my friends from SMU and I took for granted that we would be attending college, but this is not so for many bright, eager 18 year olds chomping at the bit to conquer the world. College is expensive, and the supplies that go along with a college education even more so. When a young man approached the payment counter with parents and siblings in tow and asked if he could plug in a worn out old laptop – something I admit that was in bad enough shape I might have just thrown it away – one of the ladies quickly found him a plug; he just wanted to make sure that it worked. He then inquired about the $100 price – which was a little outside of the family’s budget – doing a little bargaining, and translating for his parents everything that was said. We finally agreed on a price of $80 and the young man was ecstatic! He proudly told us that he would be starting Community College in the fall – the first one in his family to go to college – and that this laptop would be his companion for the next four years, making it much easier for him to take notes and communicate with professors. As the family walked away I noticed that I was not the only one wiping moisture away from my eyes.
Those of you who have been married know how expensive throwing a wedding can be. There is food, decorations, flowers, etc. The list goes on and on, and there is, of course THE dress. Many little girls dream of the gown they will wear when they marry their prince charming. We were lucky enough to have not one, but three wedding dresses donated to the Rummage Sale last spring. Late morning an excited buzz arose among the volunteers – there was a woman there with her mother and young daughter who had found the two wedding dresses that remained and they were excitedly debating which one to buy. At $50 each they were still a little pricey for her budget, but she hoped to make it work. We of course insisted she try them both on in the bathroom so that she could really get a sense of how they each would look on her wedding day. Of course this beautiful woman looked stunning in both of the dresses. Her fiancé, a police man, was actually working the Rummage Sale as our security guard, so one of our ladies began discussing with him how many hours of work for him would pay for the $50 dress – whichever one she chose. A bystander who had seen this story play out approached the payment counter with $100 and said, “You tell that young lady that her fairy godmother has granted her wish, and that she should take both dresses home just to make sure that she truly has the perfect dress for her big day.” When the bride-to-be got news of her “fairy godmother’s” generosity she wept openly; she was so surprised and grateful for a stranger’s act of kindness. As some volunteers helped her put the dresses back in their protective plastic there was not a dry eye in the room.
I feel so lucky to have been a part of our Trinkets and Treasure Rummage Sale last spring, and count myself doubly lucky to be involved with the Rummage Roundup this year. Thank you to everyone who contributed and continues to contribute with their hard-earned money, their gently used items, and their precious time.
Wynne M. Cunningham