Monday, January 16, 2012

Here we go again...

These days, my third, and youngest baby, The Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale, has been the one keeping me up at night. This fundraiser was born out of a late night Bravo-induced bout of insomnia during Spring Break 2011, and has been one of the most fulfilling endeavors of my mommy life.

I had been looking at a pile of discarded toys and outgrown clothes in my laundry room, and wondering if I could muster up enough donations to organize a sale to benefit a local agency. After some googling, I choose a cause that is close to my heart, the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse of Dutchess County. They are a non-profit agency that is dedicated to educating children, parents and schools on preventing and breaking the cycle of abuse.

Last year was a test run...we started by shamelessly asking for support from our local community. My motto for the SSSCA sale quickly became "It never hurts to begask." The morning after my brainstorm, I called Hopewell EZ Storage , a locally owned storage unit business, and I connected with the amazing and generous Marge, who became integral to the success of the sale. She started off by donating a unit for the storage of our donations. That one unit quickly became two...and then three...and by the time the sale rolled around in June, we were up to five jam-packed-protect-your-head-when-you-open-the-door-because-it's-all-coming-tumblin'-out-units.

Hopewell EZ Storage became our primary and most often used drop-off location, but we had a few other local businesses and schools that were kind enough to lend us some space. My homebase, Van Wyck JHS, along with Sheafe Road Elementary School both lent us their main offices as places for parents to bring piles of clothing, books, toys and other baby gear. The Little Gym of East Fishkill, my little monsters' favorite place for gymnastic classes and birthday parties, also allowed us to use their gym as a collection site- I would get a call at least once a week that their little office was becoming happily filled with boxes of gently-used goods.

As June 18th, the date of the sale, loomed closer, we realized that we need to start sorting through everything we had accumulated. A small group of volunteers made up of family and friends, spent hours sweating like we were Zumba-ing in the Sahara, in the Hopewell EZ Storage parking lot, sorting through an endless mountain of clothes, trying to organize them by gender and size. I was so appreciative of these lovely ladies who took time away from their families and other duties to help this cause, with the only perks I could offer them being a pretty fabulous suntan, and some good karma.

At last, after two months of panic attacks preparation, the fated weekend had arrived. I had some wonderful friends, Van Wyck parents and students, as well as my always agreeable family volunteering to follow me into the fire as we set everything up. The sale was held in the Fellowship Hall of Hopewell Reformed Church, who very graciously donated this large and beautiful space. At least, the hall seemed large, until we started bringing in truckloads, yes, I said truckloadS from the storage lockers. My husband, brother-in-law, and amazing teaching partner&friend assembled a 3-man team of unloading units, loading the box truck and unloading the truck delivering everything into the Hall. I completely underestimated how long this process would the end of hour #2, I was starting to get a little short of breath- and I wasn't the one doing all the heavy lifting.

Once all of the clothing, high chairs, playpens, swings, gliders, exersaucers, strollers, bathtubs, toys, bicycles, books and stuffed animals were unloaded, the crew got to work. Tables were set up, everything was laid out and priced. My parents called off their evening dinner plans with friends, and instead invited their group to come and help us set up. My in-laws invited my kiddies over to spend the night, allowing me to be 100% dedicated to the task at hand. Everyone was on a mission, and I had such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude as I looked around at the selfless group of people who made such an event possible. My husband, aka my right hand, never once questioned my sanity during this entire process. I'm sure I used up my lifetime quota of "Yes Dear"' during that two month time frame. By midnight, all was set, and we turned off the lights with an excited and nervous anticipation what the next day would bring.

We opened our doors, bright and early, Saturday morning. The sale ran for eight hours, and saw a decent amount of traffic coming through. It was a learning process, adjusting prices and policies as the day went on. In the end, we raised almost $2000 for the Center. One thing we did not think through was what to do with the large amount of leftovers...we ended up donating mostly everything to other local agencies who could use the help, as well as The Barn in Pleasant Valley.

That night, after all was said and done, I uttered the words "Now, next year..." to my husband, who's eyes I thought were going to pop out of his head. I agreed to put all planning on hold until at least the ink was dry on the check we wrote to the Center.

Fast forward a few months to October. My fantastic and always thinking girlfriend Alicia mentioned that she has been in the process of starting a fabulous new website with another local mama. She asked if I would be interested in having their help with the sale...she could hardly get the question out before I screamed hell yeah "Why, yes, that would be lovely!"

And so, this year's Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale was born. We (well, me) have partnered with Alicia and her smart and social media savvy business partner/friend/local mommy, Erika, to bring you this year's new and improved sale. Words cannot express how good it feels to have these two lovely and brilliant ladies diving into this adventure with me. I won't be surprised if my iPhone starts smoking from the rapid fire emails that we send back and forth once one of us gets an idea. Working on something together, especially when it's for an awesome cause, is exhilarating, exciting, and of course exhausting, but the other two 'ex' words totally negate the tiredness that may occur. The one major change for this year's sale is the date and location...the 2012 Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale will be held on Saturday, April 28th at the Jewish Community Center (110 Grand Ave Pougkeepsie, NY) from 9 AM- 2 PM.

So, if you have stuck with me through this very long post (I started off by just writing a quick blurb, I swear!), you may be asking yourself, "What can I do to help?" Well, you're so sweet- thank you for asking! Here is a quick list of ways you can get involved, starting today!

1. Donate your gently-used baby/kid/maternity clothing, toys, books, and other baby gear (playpens, strollers, cradles, bathtubs, swings, walkers, exersaucers, baby gates, etc.). The only items we are not accepting are stuffed animals, drop-side cribs, car seats and husbands who forget to put the toilet seat down (3 AM swim anyone?) Drop off locations can be found on our website

2. Join The Little Bloom (their link is at the top right of this page!) Alicia and Erika's aahh-MAZ-ing new venture. They have up to date information on the Sale, as well as other exciting happenings in the Hudson Valley. It's free and it will only make your life more fabulous (as if that's possible!).

3. Print out our flyer and post it EVERYWHERE! Your kid's school, dance class, Starbucks, supermarkets, church bulletin boards, bathroom stalls at Target...all of the mommy hotspots.
Copies of our flyer can be found on our website (see above) under the "how to create awareness" tab. We thank you in advance!

4. Like us! On Facebook, that is. There is a link to our FB page on the website, or you can just search for the Shop to Stop Child Abuse. You will then be in the loop of any breaking news. Be sure to "share" our page with others...just like Kody Brown would say, the more, the merrier!

5. Come hang with us! We need warm bodies, like Angelina Jolie needs a sandwich (right, fellow Golden Globe watchers??) Moms, dads, kids (age 12 and up!), community members, teachers,
sports teams, Chippendale dancers, ANYONE who wants to volunteer is encouraged to contact us through our FB page, or our email address Please give us your information and in what capacity you would like to help, and we will be sure to get back to you ASAP!

6. If you are a local business owner, and would be able to help us advertise (donating signs, etc) or would like to adopt this cause for your school or business, give us a shout and we will make it happen! A local school gave us this idea, as they have decided to adopt the Sale as their February Mitzvah project...thank you, JCC pre-school!

I think that's all, folks! We thank you for all of your help and support in making this sale a success, and we look forward to working with each and every one of you. Smooches!

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