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Churches should compare trade secrets

$90,000 in 2012 alone!  That’s the aggregate amount raised in the fairs, bake and craft sales, bazaars and rummage sales run by the six Leaside churches during 2012.

Each church, of course, operates on its own and concentrates on different things, but there are similarities in the camaraderie and community concern. And I had such a good time talking to the sales organizers that I think we should all meet for coffee some day soon and talk about our trade secrets. We’d probably raise more money.

Leaside United Church is the one we all compare ourselves to.  They hold two Awesome Sales each year, and the money they raise just keeps getting better and better.  They continually refine how and what they sell. A few years ago they added a booth that only sells purses, shoes and scarves, and it alone cleared $1,200.

(I kept my promise to the organizers not to reveal the sales totals from each sale, but couldn’t resist mentioning the $1,200 profit on those used shoes, etc.)

Leaside United deals in furniture, big time, while the rest of us won’t touch anything that can’t be carried by one person.  George Hurst, assisted by Bob Lister, continues to be the able behind-the-scenes problem solvers for Leaside United.

The formula for profit distribution was set years ago at 75 percent for parish operations and 25 percent for outreach projects.

At St. Anselm Catholic Church, the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) is the sponsor and organizer of their once a year Craft & Bake Sale, held on a Sunday morning.  Theresa Ryan, the convenor for the past two years, says the bakers start in the spring to make 76 Christmas cakes, which go in the church freezers they have bought with earlier years’ profits.  In the fall, they make cookies and eight kinds of pies, all of which are frozen until the big day.

Another group of around 30 women gather each Wednesday during the fall to assemble crafts.

This year’s sale very nearly didn’t happen, as there was a power outage at 7:30 on the day of the sale, and the hall used for the sale is down two flights of stairs in a basement.   By good luck, the power came back on just before opening time of 9:30 a.m.

Usually, two-thirds of the money stays in the parish, and one-third goes for outreach projects, such as St. Francis Table or the Good Shepherd.

Gina Davidson is the coordinator of the bazaar at St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church on Bayview at Broadway.  They switched to a fall bazaar from a spring rummage sale three years ago because this sale “is a lot less work, more money and a better time of year”.  A tea room was a much appreciated new addition this year, offering soup, sandwiches and sweets.

The money raised goes to support the annual church budget.

At St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, further south on Bayview, there are also two sales a year, both organized by the Anglican Church Women, of which I am a member.  The spring effort comprises a major book sale along with a number of other booths with the big community draw of a BBQ and outdoor games on The Green just south of the church.  For the Christmas fair in November, a sit-down lunch is a big attraction.

As happens at the other churches, the main work is done in those few frantic days before the sale.

This year, about 80 percent of the profits will be staying in the parish, with 20 percent going to various outreach initiatives such as Moorelands and Flemingdon Park Food Bank.

After not holding a sale for several years, Marg Rockingham and her “eclectic, ad hoc group” at Leaside Presbyterian Church on Eglinton decided that it was time again to hold a rummage sale of clothing and household supplies.  The women, with the assistance of a few men of the congregation, were pleased that there appeared to be many people from outside the neighbourhood attending the sale.  They had advertised in newspapers, as well as on Craigslist and kijiji.

The money raised went into the general church budget.

The exception to our sale version of fundraising is Northlea United Church on Brentcliffe.   Wendy Atkinson, a co-chair of the United Church Women (UCW), said that “stairs to the church basement, aging knees and the decreasing number of women available to help” made them decide that fundraising sales were not for them.  Instead, they help with the various community-building events sponsored by their church throughout the year.