Karen Myers uses the garage sale to finance vital missions

By Lauren Cowin

Curiosity, and perhaps divine intervention, led Karen Myers to lead a decades-long community service event — the Severna Park United Methodist Church garage sale.

A longtime event volunteer, Myers decided to attend a reunion several years ago because she wanted to see who would take over the event after the departure of Gwyn Linthicum, who had chaired the sale for 20 years. She couldn’t have predicted the outcome.

“I raised my hand. Really. It was actually a divine moment,” Myers said. “People had volunteered for sale sub-commitments… and I just had to make a decision on the spot. I said, ‘I’ll do it.’

SPUMC holds the garage sale typically twice a year, in the spring and fall, with the next one scheduled for Saturday, October 1. The event was suspended for two years due to the pandemic, followed by a clothing-only sale this spring. Myers, along with everyone involved, are excited to see the return of their full garage sale this fall.

The sale will occupy nearly every room in the church and courtyard grounds, including the following categories of items: jewelry, holidays, children’s toys, puzzles and games, household items, treasures, clothing, baby gear, books , shoes. Outside, shoppers will find outdoor items – bicycles and gardening tools – and furniture.

“Almost anything you would have in a house,” Myers said.

As sale chair, Myers makes contacts to make sure the church has everything to make the event run smoothly. A local family donates a dumpster. Giant Food and Safeway lend grocery carts.

Past sales have brought in around $25,000. Proceeds are used to fund missionary projects and events through two groups: Volunteers in Mission (VIM) and United Women in Faith.

“Volunteers in Mission organizes mission trips or events organized by our church, so if a group goes to Costa Rica to work on a church building, that group organizes it, that small group within our church”, Myers said. “All Methodist churches have a group of volunteers on mission.”

The other beneficiary of the garage sale, United Women in Faith, meets regularly for Bible studies and other activities.

“They also have mission projects they do that are important to them,” Myers said. “It could be providing food… something they do every year before school is they appeal to the congregation to provide backpacks and school supplies and they go to a school from Anne Arundel County that they have a relationship with – this is one of their mission projects.”

During the pandemic, when Severna Park United Methodist Church was not making trips for VIM, members helped with Serving People Across Neighborhoods (SPAN) renovations.

The garage sale is important to Myers because of the help it gives to these organizations, but also, beyond the “value for money” the sale provides, it helps many local families in need.

“There are also quite a few people who have told me that this is where they come to get Christmas presents for their children when they can’t shop at a retail store; they couldn’t have afforded to shop at a retail store, someone setting up their first store and really needing things at an affordable price, that’s the most rewarding thing for me,” said Myers.

All are welcome to visit Severna Park United Methodist Church for the garage sale on October 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

More than 150 church volunteers make the garage sale possible, and Myers is grateful for the support of the community and the volunteers who have made it such a success since she attended.

“I haven’t looked back. I love it,” Myers said.

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