Kyle has been volunteering at the Good Shepherd By Youth For Youth (BYFY) Rummage Sale for almost 10 years. This sale is one of Kyle’s favorite weeks of the year and he wanted to share with everyone why he enjoys it so much! One of the things Kyle enjoys most is getting to be active and away from home. “It’s not boring at BYFY,” he says. He also appreciates that the work he does – emptying cars, sorting items, and helping customers – helps other people. He believes he brings a great attitude and some muscle power to each hour of the sale (and the other volunteers would agree).Over the years he has taken some great treasures from the sale including a Karaoke machine for himself and some great clothes and country music CDs for his sister. “Last year I even got some special jewelry for my mom!”
Kyle is a great worker and is at every collection night, both days of the sale, and sticks around for the clean-up party! During collection nights you will often see Kyle in the parking lot yelling “Car” to alert other workers that a donation has come in. On Friday and Saturday he is the friendly face helping customers take their things to their car. Over the years Kyle has worked with a lot of other volunteers and enjoyed making friends with them. He really enjoyed the group of high school boys who dressed up in costumes while they worked. “They were a bit crazy but were really nice.” Kyle has also become a regular volunteer at the Good Shepherd Sunday night worship service – where he sings along loudly while helping with the worship slides.
Volunteers Make It Happen
Kyle is one of 65 volunteers who together accumulate about 200 hours of work to make the BYFY sale happen. The funds from this sale go to help our youth go on trips and retreats throughout the year. But like the sale itself, there is treasure buried within that goal. This sale also provides a great space for congregational fellowship. As youth, adults, and families work together unloading cars and sorting donations they find themselves in conversation with each other and meeting new people. It’s amazing how many people you can get to know during a “What do you think this is?” conversation!
You will also find folks who drop off donations getting out of their car to catch up with someone they haven’t seen in awhile. Many of our volunteers are adults who no longer have youth in the program but who like to come together in this way to have fun, keep in touch, and invest in a program that was so beneficial to their child.
The sale reaches beyond the congregation and into the Madison and Verona community as 100’s of non-members come into the building to shop. Our prices are low and many customers comment on just what a godsend the sale is to their family and how much they love our tremendous supply. Beyond going away with a good deal, we hope they get a taste of Good Shepherd hospitality as they are welcomed, assisted, and thanked.
Every Customer Has A Story
Each of these customers is living out their own story. It’s amazing how many stories they have shared with us over the years. We’ve had folks find a unique item that calls to mind a story of nostalgia from their childhood. We’ve had tears at the check-out counter as folks share a story of hardship or joy. We’ve had people walk customers to their car and come back 40 minutes later because they got lost in one of those parking lots conversations. For some of our customers, this may be their only time in a church building all year and the Spirit seems to always dance the right person into their path.
This sale is an important part of the youth ministry program at Good Shepherd. Because of fundraisers like this and the Chili Cook-off, we are able to send our youth to the ELCA Youth Gathering and other experiences for a fraction of the full cost. That is a huge testimony not only to our youth, but to our congregation’s love of our youth and belief in the transformative power of this ministry and these trips. And make no mistake, these youth are reminded over and over, that this is as much an investment in them as it is a gift to them.
I will admit that as an organizer of the BYFY sale and a self-proclaimed “neat freak,” this week drives me a bit nuts. It takes a lot of background work to get ready for our volunteers, to have the building in good shape, and to return it to a “worship-ready” state by Sunday. It most certainly couldn’t happen without the extra hours of people like Rick Thomas and Laura Clark among others.
But amidst all the stuff, the clutter, and the chaos there are hidden beautiful conversations, surprising connections, and Christian community. Maybe that’s the best treasure of the BYFY sale. Come shop this Friday from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.. Or if you want to volunteer, join us at noon on Saturday for a clean-up party like no other. You’ll get to meet Kyle, and your life will be better for it!
A version of this story was originally shared in The Messenger in 2018.