Saturday morning I took part in The Big Give, but I have been waffling about telling you all about it. I did mention earlier than I wanted to participate in this free garage sale that was being held at 65 Ottawa churches, including Cedarview Alliance where I am a member.
Participate I did, but I’m not really the right guy to give you the details because I didn’t see much of what was going on. As an introvert I opted for the job I figured would bring me the least amount of people contact. I was on the grill team, cooking free hot dogs for the bargain hunters. My interactions were primarily with those working with me to cook, and those who were handing out the food (we also had potato chips, juice and water).
The barbecues were set up on the far side of the church, away from where all the stuff was being given away. So I didn’t see first-hand the rush as the security guys lowered the gate and more than a hundred people who had been patiently waiting descended on the tables that had been set up. But I knew they were there – there were cars lining both sides of the street, lots of cars.
I do know that we went through 68 dozen hot dogs. Demand was steady throughout the morning. Given that not everyone who came to The Big Give bothered to eat, I would say we had in excess of 1,500 people come by in the three hours. The tables were closed at 1 p.m., with almost nothing left, but the delivery team was working until 5. Yes, church volunteers delivered the furniture (and everything else) if people wanted.
I did snap a few pictures, mostly before the event started. Too busy the rest of the time. I didn’t think to take a shot of my grill full of food. Or the three large children’s bouncy castles that were set up in the eating area. Or the fire truck (every child got to try the siren). As a reporter of this event I was a failure – but I was there to work.
That means I wasn’t there to pick up more clutter for myself. When I walked through the display area before the “sale” started, I saw quite a few things I would have liked to have. But I am learning the difference between wants and needs. So I left them there for someone else. I did let the youth group wash my van, but they were blocking the way out of the parking lot. And anyway, that wasn’t taking something someone else could have used.
I did talk to some of the people who were manning the displays and helping those who came out find the right clothing size, toy or book, or arranging for furniture deliveries. They told me that everyone was so appreciative. Certainly the families I saw walking across the church lawn, the parents carrying bags of clothing, the children with new (to them) toys, all looked very happy. People did seem rather bewildered that we were not charging for anything, nor were we accepting donations. The event was our gift to the community.
We live in a society that puts a price tag on practically everything. The Big Give is priceless.