Yesterday I finally made it to Rotary. Yes, I have been as a shopper, but never as a volunteer. This year marks my 6th Rotary Auction ‘experience.’ And since we moved here I have wanted to spend the entire week prior to the actual sale volunteering. I have had visions of spending the entire week helping to organize, clean and prepare for the massive rummage sale. The sale is so massive it does take an entire village. A village of volunteers to make the amazing day happen. But each year things like work, kids to watch, and visiting family to entertain, have kept me from committing to the full preparation week. But, this year I found out you can drop in a day here, a day there and volunteer. I could totally do that. And I did. Our entire family did, actually. We spent yesterday afternoon spread out over three departments doing a little community service.
I spent my afternoon shift in the Book Room, which is actually the schools gymnasium. Lover of books that I am, and since since I hold a literature degree, I thought I would make some good use of it. The room in and of itself is quite a site. The variety of genres is beyond extensive. From medical text books to leather bound classic books, every year there is a surprise gem and also of lot of books that aren’t really even books at all. Like the manual for your printer. Not really a book, right? But the dedicated volunteers dust, sort, lift and walk. Walk a lot. One of the volunteers I worked with wore a pedometer the day before and walked eight miles distributing books to their sections.
My husband and our youngest daughter sorted and cleaned golf clubs. There are A LOT of golf clubs – all sizes. They got to spend the afternoon in the sunshine and since they were outside they also got to watch the cars line up and unload. The skis are also really piling up. They can not even display them all, so if you have an idea of how to repurpose them by building a small house or something out of them, stop by. The couches are piling up too, as is the exercise equipment.
The Nordic Track count was only at seven as of yesterday, and I bet it will end up close to 30 by auction day. I think the Nordic Tracks should be tagged, like wild life, and then we can keep tabs on which ones return to the “nest” each year. I think at least 70% of these circle back after they have done their time as clothes racks.
My oldest daughter and her friend roamed around a bit, polished furniture, tested out sport equipment and sorted clothing. It is a bit of a social scene for the tween crowd. As it is for all ages. There are many volunteers and Rotary Members who faithfully volunteer year after year and do so the majority of the week. The Rotary Sale builds a community village that works together, talks, laughs (the phrase “did you see this” is heard a lot), strategizes, and even shares meals together. They ring a dinner bell for the evening meal and all volunteers gather and share dinner in the auditorium at Woodward Middle School where the entire event takes place. This is just one way Rotary thanks its volunteers. Crews also walk around with snacks, ice cream and water throughout the day too to keep volunteers fed/hydrated and happy.
After working eight hours you also get some pre-shopping perks. But really, you can tell just from being there a few hours that those perks are not at all what it is about for the community who spends the better part of their week shaping the sale. Creating the ‘village’ and being a part of a large force, something bigger than yourself, is really what it is all about.
The hundreds of volunteers successfully turn an empty six acre school campus into a one day rummage sale with 33 departments (see map here) that grossed over $366k dollars last year. And that money goes towards scholarships and funding projects both locally and internationally. Have a few extra hours this week? Head over to Woodward and experience the Rotary Community Village for yourself. I’ll see you there.
To volunteer, check the site here or just head over to the Volunteer Desk in the Commons Area at Woodward to sign up and check in.