St. Bernadette Parish rummage sale marks 30 years

By Jean Peerenboom | For The Compass | July 13, 2016

Event supports needy causes; organizers are shooting for record crowd and sales

APPLETON — This is a special year for the annual St. Bernadette Parish rummage sale. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary and organizers have sales and surprises to fit the happy occasion.

Over the years, the sale has not only been a good money-maker for the Appleton parish, it has grown into a must-see event for the whole community. What started 30 years ago in one basement room has now taken over the first floor of the school and several outdoor tents.

In this file photo from 2010, Kim Oscar, left, Ashley Jensen and Karen Jensen are pictured in the “toy department” of St. Bernadette Parish’s rummage sale in Appleton. The rummage sale is marking its 30th anniversary this year. (File photo by Patricia Kasten | The Compass)
In this file photo from 2010, Kim Oscar, left, Ashley Jensen and Karen Jensen are pictured in the “toy department” of St. Bernadette Parish’s rummage sale in Appleton. The rummage sale is marking its 30th anniversary this year. (File photo by Patricia Kasten | The Compass)

Proceeds, which were $38,000 in 2009, have grown to $69,000 last year. The sale is accompanied by a bake sale, which last year raised $2,000, according to Karen Jensen, the sale’s co-chair with Kim Oskar. Dorothy Beschta runs the bake sale.

Sale items are arranged by departments, with each school classroom or tent representing a different specialty: books, toys, crafts, tools, sports, furniture, bed and bath, antiques, holiday items, religious items, outdoor and patio items, school and office supplies, remodeling and building supplies, and more.

The sale always starts on the last Thursday of the month. This year the sale runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., July 28-30, on the church and school grounds, 2331 Lourdes Drive.

Volunteers spend full days at the school sorting and cleaning items in anticipation of the sale. As items come in, there are people checking if they work or are in good enough shape to sell. If not, items get recycled or turned into scrap metal, Jensen said. “We try to keep as much as we can out of the landfill.”

The organizers still need more items and will accept donations through July 26. Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday or from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday and Saturday.

The 30th anniversary is providing a marketing tool for the organizers, who hope to attract a record attendance. Each department has some special items priced at $30. Matt Reynebeau, retired principal of Xavier High School, is providing his famous chocolate chip cookies, especially decorated for the anniversary. They sell for $1.50 each.

Random coupons will be handed out each day to rummage sale customers, Jensen said. Each day also features specials, such as $5 a bag.

“We’re just trying to have a successful sale,” she said about the anniversary. She said the organizers tried to capitalize on the anniversary as a way to advertise the sale and attract new, first-time customers.

Part of that new audience may come from people who regularly attend activities at the Thompson Senior Center, which moved into St. Bernadette School in spring. “We had to work around their space,” Jensen said, “but it worked out fine and it is bringing different people coming through than we’ve had before.”

As in the past, 10 percent of the profits are earmarked for the missions. Jensen said they also provide items for local nonprofits and groups, such as the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, the Community Clothes Closet, the Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity Restore and other groups that help the needy in the Fox Valley. Last year, a family that had suffered a disastrous house fire was welcome to come and get what they needed.

“We give to whomever we can,” Jensen said. At the end of the sale, the leftovers are given to the Salvation Army and the whole process begins again for the next year. The parish will accept donations year-round, though the big push begins each spring because storage space is limited. There are parishioners who will pick up items if people can’t get them to the church.

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