One of the community’s biggest sales events is coming back.
The Community Church Crafters and the Loudon County Habitat for Humanity’s garage sale and boutique is returning Oct. 1 after a two-year absence. The sale is 8 a.m.-noon in the Christian Life Center of the Community Church at Tellico Village.
Residents are asked to donate items no longer in use for the sale and boutique. A variety of items are accepted, including clothing, books, household items and anything clean and in “good working condition.”
Donated items will be accepted by volunteers at the church 8 a.m.-noon Sept. 30.
Large items from residents in Tellico Village and Rarity Bay need to be scheduled for pick up before noon Sept. 28 by calling Linda Claggett at 571-215-4953. Only flat screens will be accepted for television donations.
Proceeds from the sale benefit local charities. Items remaining after the sale will be donated to Habitat and the Good Neighbors Shoppe.
“We’re excited about having it again,” Kathy Blevins, sale co-chair, said. “It’s a lot of work, but people in the past they just do their jobs, and I really think they enjoy coming. I know Sammie Shanks from Habitat said ‘you know, it’s the sale event of the year.’ We like to think of it that way. It’s exciting because the proceeds do a lot of good, and it has been a good event to be involved with.”
Because of the pandemic, the sale hasn’t been held since 2019.
Funds will be divided between the two sponsoring organizations, Tony Gibbons, Habitat executive director, said.
The pandemic set the nonprofit back when events such as the sale were canceled. Gibbons said the gap in income was supported and supplemented by funds raised by local churches, including Community Church.
“The first year of COVID pretty much eliminated all of our special event funding, whether we were hosting the special event or if it were an outside group, such as with the community garage sale,” Gibbons said. “We saw about $70,000 evaporate out of our projected income, and we made adjustments internally to navigate that new reality.
“Externally, there were a number of churches, including Community Church at Tellico Village, who after canceling their event found ways to lean into the need,” he added. “What I mean is that they looked inward with their congregation or with their stakeholders and found strategies to raise funds to support and supplement the dollars that were not raised through the traditional special event. That’s what carried us in covering that huge gap that was created instantaneously.”
Gibbons said members of the organization are excited to start the event again and interact with residents they may not have seen in years.
The two-year gap didn’t come without consequences. Blevins said the number of volunteers to help take donations and run the sale are down.
“The Crafters are finding, and I believe Habitat as well, is that I think it’s been out of sight, out of mind,” Blevins said. “People, maybe they’re doing other things. They have volunteered to do other activities and also with people being able to travel again, we’re finding from the Crafter’s point of view that several of our folks that normally would volunteer they are traveling again. Also, we’ve had people move away, and we’re also getting older, all of us.”
Blevins said the group “never panics” and always manages to find enough people to help, but the event is a large undertaking. Volunteers are offered free lunch Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, and those who work Sept. 30 get to shop early once displays are set up and priced.
The event ultimately allows Habitat to engage with the community and bring awareness to the work the nonprofit does in home construction and restoration. The sale also helps the Crafters in their goals for the community.
“We’re delighted to again be able to put on another sale,” Sammie Shanks, Habitat volunteer coordinator, said. “It is a community-wide event. Donors, volunteers and shoppers come together, and then families throughout our community benefits. Some families receive assistance from Habitat with affordable housing and then also seniors with repairs and modifications to their homes that allow them to more safely remain in their homes.”
Gibbons said working with the Crafters and church is like “working with family” to help the community and surrounding areas.
“It is a blessing and a lot of Habitats have that,” Gibbons said. “Some don’t. Some have the relationship with churches, but it’s not on this level.”
Those interested in volunteering can call Blevins at 865-250-0671 or Charlene Barton at 865-458-4359.