Spending a sunny autumn Saturday selling cast-offs from garages, attics and basements might ordinarily hold little appeal for college students, but for the right cause, they will forgo the football game for a yard sale.
A group of McDaniel College sophomores spent two days hauling, sorting, pricing and showcasing hundreds of items donated for a yard sale to Shepherd's Staff, an outreach ministry to the needy in Carroll County. They are trying to make a difference.
The students are part of the local effort participating in Make a Difference Day, a nationwide movement sponsored by USA Weekend and the Points of Light Foundation that encourages neighbors to help each other. The event is tomorrow.
"What a great day to ask the community to help people who can't always help themselves," said Kathy Brown, director of Shepherd's Staff. "The title says it all. We can make a difference."
Preparing for the yard sale, the students' first task was to hang a large black banner with "Make a Difference" in bold white letters between two trees in the front yard of Brown's Wakefield Valley home. Her porch, deck and driveway will be yard sale headquarters tomorrow. For the last few weeks, Brown's neighbors have deposited hundreds of sellable items at her front door.
The students, who call themselves Shepherd's Angels, unpacked boxes with oil lamps, crystal, china, canisters, decorator pillows, baskets, rugs, paintings and crocks. They sorted through bags of clothing, linens and shoes. Brown's yard sale staff has orders to take any offer.
"We are getting rid of it all," said Brown, who promises low prices to keep the second-hand merchandise moving. "These girls are invaluable to me, and they are so eager to help."
Asked if she was tempted to buy any of the items, Lindsey Schwartz replied, "We are poor college students."
Her friend Amy Grose added, "If I find something I want, I'll buy it."
Another friend, Katie Martin, who edits the Shepherd's Staff newsletter, said community service can be really satisfying.
"This is a great cause," she said.
All the money from the sale will go to the Shepherd's Staff prescription medicine fund, which has seen a large increase in demand, Brown said.
"People are asking more often for dollars for medicines, and we can't meet the requests," she said. "They are uninsured and underinsured. Some of them can't even make the co-payments."
From household chores to car washes, sewing bees and lawn work, Carroll volunteers expect to make a difference in the community tomorrow.
At North Carroll High School, Linus Project volunteers expect to quilt, knit or sew about 500 blankets for needy children. Those willing to bring a sewing machine are the most welcome. Those who lack stitching ability can cut fabric, match quilt pieces or work on other tasks at several workstations.
"We will have a huge set-up in the school gym," said Stacey Taylor Smith, director of Volunteer Carroll.
About 30 other McDaniel College students have assigned themselves various tasks. They are washing buses for Head Start, gardening and raking at Piney Run Park in Eldersburg and helping Habitat for Humanity work with its new home project in Westminster.
"We have teams everywhere promoting the idea that we can all set aside a day to examine how we can make a difference," said Judi Johnson, volunteer activities specialist with Volunteer Carroll.