Submitted by Linda Cook, St. Mark Lutheran Church
The annual rummage sale at St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church, Davenport, provides more than an opportunity to buy a vase for 25 cents. It serves as a social platform for the congregation, supports those in need within the church neighborhood, raises awareness of St. Mark’s presence in the Quad City community, and is a vital resource for social service agencies and other churches.
The three-day event, which is held in October, takes an entire year to plan. Donations of sporting goods, clothing, shoes, household items, antiques and collectibles, handmade quilts, toys and electronics make their way to St. Mark’s throughout the year. A community of volunteers supports the rummage sale behind the scenes. “We are blessed with a lot of volunteers. Some are not even St. Mark members. We received donations from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and Grace United Methodist. The United Way of the Quad-Cities Area donated cloth bags for the Saturday bag sale when shoppers pay $3 for everything they can fit into a canvas bag,” said Sue Nelson, one of the coordinators of the annual event.
The sale brings in around $5,000 each year. In six years more than $30,500 in support has been given to special projects and tuition for members of St. Mark who are attending seminary. This year’s sale and the next three will support St. Mark member, Emily Martin, who is enrolled in the Master of Divinity Program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. “The church needs to support its seminary students. St. Mark doesn’t have money in the general fund to support our seminarians, that is why the rummage sale is so important,” said Pat Thode, rummage sale coordinator.
After the rummage sale remaining items are donated to local service agencies. Winnie’s Place, a shelter program to assist women who are homeless or victims of violence, received dishware, and stuffed animals will be given to people at Christmas time who visit St. Mark’s food pantry. Grace United Methodist Church received men’s and children’s clothing for their free clothing closet, as did The Salvation Army.
With this year’s rummage sale completed the process will begin again. For the next 11 months donations will start filling the spaces of St. Mark. Volunteers will begin sorting, organizing and pricing items in preparation for next year. “Our ‘customers’ tell us they look forward to coming each year,” Nelson said. “It’s a lot of work, but we have a lot fun and fellowship working together on this ministry.”