Monday, September 04, 2006

The Yard Sale Economic Barometer

This weekend our church held its annual yard sale -- our Mack daddy, full-tilt-boogie annual fundraiser -- on the front lawn of one of our parishoners' family farmsteads.

Fellow Traveler and I took our turn staffing the enterprise. (And FT went above and beyond by helping set up earlier in the week, a task that was a lot more arduous than sitting behind the cashier's table.) We had a lot of fun, shilling among the shoppers ("A buck a bag! Fill a bag for a buck!") and pawing through the merchandise and eating a lot (one of the perks of working our yard sale is the grub -- sloppy joes made by our youth group and various baked goodies).

But as amusing as the weekend was, it was also sobering to see the level of need in our community. I'm a veteran of about six of these sales, and I think the desperation quotient of the bargain hunters was as high as I've ever seen it. People are hurting financially in my part of the world, big time.

Someone had donated a pair of wobbly old end tables to our sale. They'd sat languishing for the first day of the sale. Then a woman showed up, young kids in tow; she was a grandmother, she told one of our workers, raising her grandkids because her own adult child's life was in chaos. This woman bought several bags of kids' clothing. Then she asked about the end tables, which had a "make an offer" sign on them.

"Well," our colleague said cheerfully, "the sign says make an offer."

"I can give you a dollar," the woman murmured. Then she began to cry.

She got the end tables. And we threw in an old television.

This is what life looks like in rural America these days.


Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Oh, LC, that post makes me cry.

I'll send up a little prayer for that grandmother, and all the grandmothers, who are raising their grandkids.

Keep 'em close, Lord.


LutheranChik said...

For anyone who knows of grandparents raising grandchildren: Your local council or commission on aging may have monies available for what's called kinship for persons 60+ who are raising minor family members. They don't have to be legal guardians in order to qualify for help, but they do need to meet certain income guidelines. These monies are doled out in little grants -- not a lot per family, but enough for things like buying children's school clothes or furniture or paying for school materials/band or athletic equipment.

David said...

Good tip. Thanks for the information. I know of two such people who are having tough times raising grandchildren.

Tom in Ontario said...

That just sucks. When I see and hear stuff like that I flash between anger and sadness as well as impotence. It seems like the solutions to these social ills are so out of reach.

Jody said...

These stories make my heart hurt. There are too many of them being told, and the church (not to mention the rest of the community) is stretched so darn thin. Sigh.

Questing Parson said...

I suspect the profit the church will make from the sale of the end tables and the TV will be beyond measure.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

I've spent half of my life in a city and then the next half in a very rural area. The interesting thing in "the country" is that people of various means and classes are more likely to mix, that is, attend the same schools, churches, and go to the same stores.

I've found that this mixing can make me more sensitive to the way others live. This is good.

I've also noticed that "second homes" for "summer people" are not just the cabins of old, but are being built larger and fancier than the homes of the local people. This has a lot to do with land prices. It will have a big impact on our local institutions, one way or another. And the lower income people are being priced out of regular homes.

Rhetorical questions: What can local churches to to help the people who have little? Should the national church bodies take a stand regarding the owning of second homes when there are so many people whose first home is so meager?

Cathy said...

There are so many grandparents raising grandchildren with so little resources. I see it daily at school and frankly don't see how some can do it day in and day out. Seems like we have a generation of children who are being raised by tv, grandparents and teachers