This is a story about how a community can pull together to offer hope to our children – now and for the future. It is about one woman and her determined crusade to host a garage sale to raise money – and awareness -- for juvenile diabetes research with a dream of putting an end to this devastating disease.
During four weeks of preparation, young artists made posters to advertise the event. By opening day, more than 50 River Dell families stopped by Kim Wapelhorst’s front porch to drop off their unwanted treasures, books, and clothes that would ultimately make someone else’s day.
As the weeks passed, friends told friends and the word spread. Inventory quickly began to fill up Kim’s two-car garage, her basement, and other rooms in her house. After working her day job, Kim toiled endlessly into the night examining the goods, separating the items and folding enough clothes to outfit a small country.
Days before the multi-day event, once again friends and strangers came by to offer assistance with borrowed tents, tables and a free hand to stage the sale. A 'quick' stop for one volunteer turned into full time day work detail as she returned each day to help price and tie up loose ends for the sale.
Despite the gray skies and drizzling rain, the fund-raiser was in full swing come the start of the weekend. While some visitors did not know their purchases went to a good cause, others drove miles to help support the event that was advertised on Craig’s list, the JDRF web site and other online news outlets.
The camaraderie and support was contagious as the hours and days passed. Bargain hunters left more than the total of their tab. Other visitors left extra change and bills in the JDRF donation can – one man stuffed two twenties into the plastic tub because he too has the disease, while a 16 year old diabetic offered her thank you by donating all the money she had with her.
Shoppers were in great spirits as they shared nostalgia while rummaging through things they hadn’t seen in years, while others congratulated lucky buyers who walked away with a great purchase. Most everyone knew someone touched by diabetes or left inspired by this community event.
Each day, refreshed friends and neighbors stopped by to offer help, as shoppers returned two and three times. New energy rejuvenated tired hands.
Some brought food for hungry workers while others brought new treasures to sell or relieve another worker. Then there was Marge, a diabetic at 80 years “young” who was in charge of the money box and greeted buyers with a smile. There was Kim’s childhood friend who worked endlessly and made sure the tents stayed upright during the many drizzles and downpour. And then there was another whose extended family suffered from the disease and wanted to make a difference.
By the end of the weekend, more than $5,000 was raised for JDRF. But I’m sure everyone would agree that the happy ending was more than how much money was raised. It was about a community who came together to lend a hand, share a story and support a good cause.
What more could anyone want in a home town?