It’s yard sale week at St. Brendan’s! For the past month, and especially this week, St. Brendan’s has been bustling with activity as people sort, clean, organize, and price items, getting ready for our big, two-day yard sale on Friday and Saturday. Donated items fill every free room and hallway in the church—from the sanctuary and the social hall to the tiny puppet room in the lower level. Some things are brand new (like a blouse with the $200+ tag still on); some are antiques (like the hand stitched wedding dress); some are unique (such as the 4-foot-long sword); and some don’t meet the rigorous quality standards and get passed on before the yard sale. From nightstands to knickknacks and everything in between you are guaranteed to find something you’re looking for at St. Brendan’s yard sale!
St. Brendan’s has been hosting “Pittsburgh’s classiest yard sale” for over 15 years. And, in fact, the yard sale is one of the things St. Brendan’s is best known for. However, shoppers who come on Friday and Saturday only get a glimpse of what the yard sale is to St. Brendan’s. Behind the scenes, the yard sale is about more than just selling used things; it is also an opportunity for ministry and fellowship.
In preparation for the yard sale about 20 to 30 core volunteers, many working almost daily for the month leading up to the yard sale, contribute well over 2,000 volunteer hours. On the days of the sale, it takes about 40 to 60 volunteers, in rotating shifts, to staff the yard sale. Most of these volunteers are St. Brendan’s members, but some are former parishioners, family members, or just friends who continue to help each year. In the words of one longtime volunteer, “this sale is truly a labor of love.”
For many, the yard sale is an opportunity for fellowship with others. As another parishioner said, “it’s a community affair!” When asked what they enjoyed most about helping with the yard sale, many responded with stories about working with the other volunteers. It’s a lot of hard work, they said, but it is also fun.
Additionally, the yard sale brings in new members to St. Brendan’s. Several parishioners (and even a previous interim priest!) have come to St. Brendan’s via the yard sale and some of them are even now regular yard sale volunteers!
The yard sale is also a ministry to the people who come to shop—many of whom might not be able to afford those purchases at brand-new, in-store prices. St. Brendan’s yard sale is a place where families with children can find like-new winter coats for only a few dollars or where those who have recently moved to the area can find affordable furniture for their homes. Not only does the yard sale keep these items out of the landfill and give them a second home, but, because all the items are donated, the yard sale is able to do so at an affordable price that benefits the buyers as well as St. Brendan’s.
Of course, it cannot be overlooked that the yard sale is also St. Brendan’s largest fundraiser and makes a significant contribution to St. Brendan’s annual income. The money raised from the yard sale helps “keep the lights on” so St. Brendan’s can continue its many other ministries and services.
At 8 am on Friday morning, you can be sure that there will be a long line waiting to get inside St. Brendan’s and discover the perfect deal (in past years that have been 200-250 people waiting outside for the doors to open!). But what you may not see are the many volunteers who will go home tired on Saturday afternoon after helping to sort donations, set up signs, bake food, sell items, and clean up and still come back on Sunday morning for fellowship and worship—and then do it all again next year! St. Brendan’s yard sale has been, and continues to be, a success because of the people behind it—the people who make St. Brendan’s such a dedicated and vibrant community.
Grace and peace,
Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, biblical scholar, or official spokesperson for The Episcopal Church. If you read anything on this blog that is inaccurate or contrary to the teachings of The Episcopal Church, consider it my error and please let me know! If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com.