By Marilyn Karpinski
In 1970, when hair was long, love and peace were mantras and the Volkswagon Bus was the “hip” mode of transportation, the women of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Angola, made a decision to conduct a rummage sale.
What started as a sale of clothing lasting a few days in the basement of the small, original church building and raising $325, has grown to a weeklong event which, in addition to the clothes, now includes everything imaginable and raises thousands of dollars.
From its inception, proceeds of the sale have helped support St. Francis School in Zambia, Africa. When asked how the decision was made to support the African school, Joan Willig, one of the women involved in the first sale, said they initially didn’t have a charity designated to receive funds because they were unsure if it would be a success. During the sale, Brother Brian from Zambia was visiting the Franciscan Friars who serve St. Anthony Parish: he told the women of the needs of the students at the mission school in Africa and mentioned that any leftover clothing would be appreciated. From that conversation, a partnership was formed and a 47-year tradition began.
For many years following Brother Brian’s visit, the women would sew bags, fill them with leftover clothing and send them to the school — with the proceeds of the sale going to cover shipping charges.
This tradition continued until it was discovered that much of the clothing being sent was not reaching its destination. At that time the policy was changed, and the proceeds are now sent to the mission and leftover items are donated to the Salvation Army.
Over the years word of the sale, the quality and selection of goods offered has spread. Customers line up hours before the doors open to get first peek at the offerings.
Many residents of the area depend on the sale to outfit their children for school. Students leaving for college find everything they need to furnish their dorm rooms or apartments. Lake residents also shop the sale to restock their cottages with items that seem to disappear or break down over the course of a summer. Like-new baby furniture and clothing are separated and donated to Compassion Pregnancy Center and Women’s Care Center prior to the sale.
Preparations and a celebration
While the women of the parish work for a month prior to the sale to get ready, measuring every waistband, inseam, sheet and pillowcase to determine and label proper sizes, it is not all work and no play.
The Tuesday before the sale, the women join together for a pot luck picnic at the home of a member. During the afternoon they also put on a style show in which the models are completely outfitted with items available in what they affectionately call the “St. Anthony Boutique.”
This year’s sale took place the third week in July, the same week it is held each year, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 700 W. Maumee St., Angola. To donate to next year’s sale, call the parish office at 260-665-2259.
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