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Charlottesville, Va.,
12:46 PM

From Trash to Treasure: $17k Raised via Garage Sale to Support Meals on Wheels

Employees use paid time off and CSES days to a run garage sale and help seniors in their community.

For 11 years, a garage sale has brought a community together.

Kathy Schumacher, Underwriting service assistant in Charlottesville, Va., started the garage sale with then coworker Darlene Lyons. Darlene had a friend who was homebound and needed a lot of help, which she received through the local Meals on Wheels program. So, Darlene decided to raise money to benefit the organization.

They didn’t want to just fundraise, they wanted to provide an event.

The Fluvanna (County) Meals on Wheels Garage Sale was created as a way to not only fundraise, but to provide an opportunity for people to donate goods they no longer needed. Someone’s trash is another’s treasure, as they say.

“We collect donated items at our houses and then take them to where we are hosting the sale. We clean, restore, price, organize and sort everything,” Kathy said.

Kathy has used a week of her paid time off to organize and manage the garage sale every year, and every year she invites her State Farm® colleagues to volunteer with her.

“When I saw the email that we got a second CSES (Community Service and Education Support) team day, I made sure to mention that to my coworkers in all divisions – production, call center, Underwriting. Every year, the sale gets bigger and bigger so we can use all the hands we can get.”

“Kathy saw the opportunity for people to do two days. She started building buzz around the office and was able to get people who had not used the CSES,” said Sabrina Morris, Underwriting support supervisor. “One employee said they would have not used the CSES day because volunteering can be intimidating by yourself, but this person was able to pair up with someone they knew and volunteer together. It encouraged more employees to do it.”

Kathy said 24-28 State Farm colleagues volunteered in 2019 for the nine-hour day, helping to raise $17,750, plus a Good Neighbor Grant® Team Program application provided another $500.

Sabrina accepted Kathy’s invitation to volunteer for the first time.

“It was a really welcoming environment,” Sabrina said. “It was nice to be there with people you knew. You were volunteering, but it felt less like volunteering and more like doing something good with people you enjoy being around.”

“It is such a positive environment. Everyone is so happy and wants to reach the same goal,” Kathy added. “The team day did a lot because you were able to get to know somebody you see, but can’t talk to them, such as at the call center.”

And it all comes back to what the mission is – help seniors receive nourishment and interactions they may not get otherwise.

“It’s just something I believe in. No one should be alone and no one should go without food,” Kathy said.