Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunshine comes in many forms

As the dogs and I sit staring morosely through the windows at the rain, I can't help but reflect that the good mood I feel when the sun shines is also kindled by many non-solar events.

Now, I bet you’re thinking I’m about to tell you how my dogs make me laugh, or the cat warms my heart, or the flowers on my patio still bloom in rain.


I’m going to tell you about the sunshine that supporters of animal rescues and shelters provide. 

As many readers know, I volunteer at our local Cowichan and District SPCA.  We have the best staff, the best volunteer dog walkers and cat lovers, the best animals. 

We do!
The Very Best Dogs!

And we have the best annual garage sale in the whole of Canada.

I’m part of a core team of 6-8 people who begin in January to accept donations, sort them, research them, price them, box them, stash them in every available nook and cranny around the shelter, and place some high value or very large items online.  

Pack 'em tight
and stack 'em high!

Come garage sale time, we are joined by another 30 or so volunteers who transport them to the Cowichan Exhibition grounds, unpack them, display them, and sell them.  It is the cleanest, best organized, best attended garage sale event you will ever find.  Last year, all that was left in the previously-packed 16,000 square foot hall was a couple of passenger van loads and a utility trailer of stuff, which a local thrift store took away for us, and a profit of over $30,000 in the shelter’s coffers.  

We achieve this by being picky – only clean, good quality, unbroken items are sold – and by pricing low enough to attract buyers but high enough to maximize the benefit to the animals.  The total we raise annually speaks for itself.

But back to my original theme – sunshine.  Despite the fact that those of us on the core team become bone weary long before the actual sale, sometimes frustrated by dirty, broken, musty and even rat-and-mice-feces-covered items that the ‘donors’ should have taken to the dump (and which we have to pay to dump),  there are many moments when the generosity of our supporters brings sunshine to our lives. 

Generous donors are like a beautiful sunrise

Some of the donations we receive are amazing – like the three framed prints by famous artists we’ve received so far this year that are each valued at over $600;  like the clean, barely used furniture a care home donated;  like the quality clothing, the nearly new tools,  or the brand new set of golf clubs someone won and didn’t need.

And like the van load of goodies that came in on Thursday.  A supporter who is moving out of the country donated container after container of quality goods, all spotlessly clean, all carefully packed, all organized – tools and garden items in new or like-new condition in their original boxes with instructions;  beautiful kitchenware that would be coveted by any cook who knows his/her saucepans;  clean, popular, near-new books; small appliances without a scrape or dent or spot of grease on them.  Her donation will bring hundreds, if not thousands,  of dollars to our sale, to our shelter, for our animals.  It was like Christmas morning, opening those containers, oohing and aahing over the contents.

Not everyone has a houseful of goods to donate, or quality like-new items they no longer need.  But sunshine comes in little rays too: the colourful lego set a child has decided to part with;  the ‘oops what was I thinking!’  shirt with tags still attached;  the ‘time to get rid of these’ unused boxes of craft supplies for that hobby you never really got into; or  the ‘what the heck will we need these for in our new condo?’ shiny gardening tools. 

And of course there are things donated with a few tears – the orthopedic dog bed that a beloved pet only used for a short while before passing away; the family heirloom that sat on a recently deceased parent’s shelf for years but none of the relatives really want; the bedroom suite of the youngest child who has long since been out on her own.  

Every time we receive a donation of clean, quality, well cared for items, we smile. 

And sunshine pours into our lives.  Even when the weather outside is rainy.

Thanks, supporters.  You are the best.

Cowichan and District SPCA Annual Garage Sale
May 31 – June 1 at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds
Clean, quality donations gratefully accepted at the shelter on Bell McKinnon Rd until May 15th.  Please phone ahead if you wish to donate furniture.  We respectfully retain the right to decline items we know we cannot sell, like television sets and most other electronics, skiis,  old kitchen plastic ware, and items in poor or dirty condition.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I so wish I could attend your garage sale this year but my son is graduating from university (in Prince George) that weekend.
The amount of money you raise for the SPCA, every year, is astounding.
You are an amazing supporter of animals in every facet of your life! Thank you!!!

Dawn said...

I have walked dogs at the Cowichan SPCA. I totally agree that it has the best staff and wonderful dogs.
I have tried volunteering at our SPCA here in California, but it is just not the same.