Wives of the Knights of Columbus Council 6419 have been cleaning, sorting, organizing and pricing the countless items that will be part of the 2017 Fall Rummage Sale.
Carol Andrews and her Knight husband, Jack, moved to Hot Springs in 2009 from Dallas, Texas. She began volunteering for the event on a small scale the following year, but then decided to offer her skills gained through previous work in advertising to increase sales.
In her seven years, she’s established a database for sending out reminder postcards to interested parties, and the list has grown from 45 names to some 450, getting the word out far and wide.
Andrews said people come from locations outside Hot Springs, like Little Rock, Benton, Norman and Texarkana, and travelers have said they appreciate both the quality and bargains.
The semiannual events, occurring in the spring and fall, were initially begun as a way to raise money for the Knights hall, but as time went on, the revenue increased and a Charity Committee was set up.
Proceeds from the sales now benefit area agencies on a monthly basis — Jackson House, Change Point Pregnancy Care and Parenting Resource Center, Samaritan Ministries, Project Hope Food Bank, The Caring Place, The FACES Foundation, Co-operative Christian Ministries and Clinic, St. Mary’s Food Pantry, and local disabled veterans each receive hundreds of dollars each month, amounting to nearly $50,000 of monetary help each year.
In addition to the monthly beneficiaries, other organizations receive donations from the Knights, like toys and backpacks that go to the Garland County Department of Human Services and CASA.
Because there wasn’t enough room for storing things inside Giompoletti Hall during the early years, some members kept donated goods in their homes, As donations increased, second and third buildings were put on the property.
Reiter Hall holds tools, light fixtures, large furniture pieces and gardening items, while more traditional rummage sale items are housed in Spirit Hall. These include both new and gently used jewelry, books, wall art, lamps, dishes, small appliances, bedding, cloth and sewing material, holiday decorations, toys for all ages, baby items and electronics. Clothing, however, is not part of the sale.
Andrews said all items are in working condition, and everything is cleaned and tested before going on a shelf. Local businessman John Steinhaus donates his time in service of professionally cleaning all the furniture and rugs, making them move-in ready for shoppers.
The bulk of donations come from homes where the resident has died or moved into a care facility. Family members often contact the Knights, and members will listen to what items are involved, then come to the residence and pack up everything onto a truck or trailer. All donations are tax-deductible, and forms are given out. To arrange for a pickup, Master Knight Jim Lockwood can be contacted at 501-282-7027.
It indeed take a village to ensure the best event possible. Some of the volunteer women check appliances and wash dishes or cookware. Andrews often launders bedding in her home. She is drawn in to help by the caring and camaraderie of the wives, and said, “I like to think that behind every rummage sale there’s a woman praying, pleading and polishing.”
There are days she spends up to nine hours doing volunteer service, and she’s hardly alone, as the Knights and wives work nearly year-round to present the sales as nicely as they can. She said the care that goes into organizing and presenting is obvious, with furniture arranged as if it were in a showroom. “It’s a really good group of people. … We all work together.”
But the efforts are definitely worthwhile, as shoppers are often lined up out the door on the sale’s first day. Andrews said, “You always get a kick out of hearing someone say, ‘Oh, that’s just what I need,’ because then you know that you’re helping them out, and they’re helping us out,” which, in turn, helps the community. “It makes you feel good.”
She said hundreds of shoppers will visit over the two weekends, and many come to enough sales that the volunteers know them on a first-name basis.
This fall’s event dates are Oct. 13-14, and 20-21. Doors will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3045 Spring St.
Andrews was fortunate to grow up in a family that was able to provide anything she needed, so when she sees the clients served by the organizations the Knights benefits, she is humbled by her own blessings and said she thinks of the expression, “There but for the grace of God go I.”