Not much is free these days. Or if something is there are often strings attached, like having to sign up for an email newsletter to get a birthday freebie.
But on Friday and Saturday, Fourth Plain Church of the Nazarene offered a twist on the traditional summertime church rummage sale: Everything was completely free. People didn’t have to sign up for anything, but they could fill out a prayer request card if they desired.
When Adrian Jimenez first approached the sale, called Care 2 Share, he almost felt like he was doing something wrong.
“It’s almost, I want to say, a Goodwill but outside and better. It certainly is the best deal in town,” quipped Jimenez, who found some nice dress shirts. The sale took place in the park behind the northeast Vancouver church.
Aireann Duke said her family found out about Care 2 Share on Facebook.
“We’re just struggling a little bit with our finances,” she said. “We were hoping to find some things and we did.”
They filled grocery bags with clothes, shoes and puzzles.
Throughout the day, the dozens of volunteers who helped put on the event heard stories from people in need. A homeless man got a new backpack. Young men cobbled together the pots and pans they needed for their college apartment. A woman who recently had knee surgery found a bicycle to help with her recovery. Four silverware sets were given away to people who had moved into new homes.
Sure, some people take advantage of the generosity, but organizer Rhonda Soft said the good outweighs the bad.
“Our desire is just to share love as well as things with people,” said Soft, who is on the church’s missions committee.
She said she’s inspired by biblical passages that encourage sharing what you have and valuing others above yourself. Care 2 Share is a way to give back what was given to her.
Many years ago Soft went to a clothing swap in the community room at Fire District 3’s station in Hockinson. At the time, her husband has lost his job and they had three young children. She was grateful for the leg up and ended up helping the woman running the event.
“I just wanted to help because it was so much of a help to me,” Soft said.
The clothing swap eventually merged with an event called Sharing is Caring at an Apostolic Lutheran church where a man gave away his deceased brother’s estate. Over time, the event evolved and in 2014 moved to Fourth Plain Church of the Nazarene where it was renamed Care 2 Share.
“It’s a huge blessing to the community,” said volunteer Barbara Peterson, adding that every year the event improves. “People are astounded when they realize everything is free.”
Peterson was organizing the clothes and said someone with the Family & Community Resource Center at nearby Pioneer Elementary School stocked up on clothes and shoes for students in need.
By mid-morning Saturday, half of the donated items were gone. Whatever is leftover will be donated to worthy causes.