Thanks to all!
Rummage, with all that it does for so many people and agencies across the Chicago area, is one of the most rewarding experiences for those who volunteer their time and their talents. At the same time, the process and mechanics of this year-long ministry can also be thankless.
Today we give thanks for those who dedicate so much of their time, and heart, and passion to continue this great tradition; and to help it evolve as the needs of those it serves evolve.
“We are thankful for Annie Adams, the Director of Rummage, for the bold, creative and visionary role she continues to take in making the Fall Sale the success that it is and in making Rummage a bigger, more expansive year-round effort,” says Nadia Stefko, Clergy liaison on the Rummage Steering Committee.
According to Adams, Rummage is the go-to destination for people looking to do good by donating, shopping or volunteering. “With Pop-Up and Estate Sales, it’s no longer just a two Sales a year operation, it’s a year-round Ministry that relies on the hands, hearts and minds of many,” she says.
We are also thankful for the Steering Committee.
“I am blessed with a Steering Committee that helps me oversee day-to-day activities,” Adams says. “Together, we look for new opportunities to attract donations and new shoppers; growing revenue with Giving Back serves as our common motivation.”
The members of the Steering Committee (and their years of service to Rummage) include Annie Adams (14 years), Robin Anstaett (28 years), Jennifer Baker (8 years), Susan Garland (41 years), Erika Kreisa (18 years), Darlene McKinney (12 years), Elizabeth Parkinson (24 years), Suzie Peregrine (27 years), Carol Rasmus (23 years), Nadia Stefko (4 years) and Joanie White (44 years).
Many at Christ Church may not be familiar with Joanie White who has served on Rummage’s Steering Committee since 2007. Joanie is the only member of the Steering Committee who isn’t a member of Christ Church. But she has been a part of Rummage for approximately 45 years, first working in the Boys Department, later serving as Chairman. Since probably about 1980 she has worked in Sorting, and for many years has served as Co-Chairman of Sorting, most recently with Karen Forsberg and previously with Dorothy Kalas.
“When we moved to Winnetka in 1973-74 people suggested volunteering at Rummage would be a great way to meet people in the community,” Joanie says.
That turned out to be true. Being involved in sorting also allowed Joanie the flexibility she needed to accommodate another amazing passion in her life. In the mid to late 1970s, Joanie and her husband, Herb, began fostering drug exposed newborns, until they could be placed for adoption … forever homes.
“I was able to do sorting two to three times a week with a baby,” Joanie said. Though in later years there has been childcare available during sorting time, “Most of the babies just came with me and napped while we sorted,” Joanie says
Joanie was always concerned about the disruption an infant might cause, and how other sorters might feel with a crying or fussy child. But she stated proudly that there was never one that was truly disruptive.
Over the course of more than 40 years, Joanie and Herb fostered more than 130 babies. They cared for some as long as six months and one for more than a year.
Of her time with Rummage, both as a volunteer and a member of the Steering Committee, she is thankful to have worked with “such a wonderful and thoughtful group of people.” It has been rewarding to her, over the years, to always be able to find people who have been willing to give their time and serve.
“My life has been one of GIVING,” Joanie says. “Giving to my family, giving to our Foster Babies, and giving to the Ministry of Rummage at Christ Church. I am truly BLESSED!”
It is safe to say that anyone who has worked with Joanie is even more touched by the kindness, generosity and selflessness she shows, at Rummage, but more importantly in the gift she and her husband have given to all those children.
To Joanie White, the Steering Committee, Annie Adams and each and every volunteer, Thank You. This great ministry, which began 95 years ago without knowing what it would become, is all the richer for your service and your commitment.
# # #
The faces we know … and those we don’t
On Rummage Sale morning you are as likely to encounter a neighbor working the sale or slipping in to find a bargain as you are to a single mother waiting in line to outfit her young children in clothes for the year.
Or maybe there’s the young couple looking to score furniture cheap enough to outfit their new home. Perhaps there’s one in a busload of seniors, on a fixed income, shopping for a new set of dishes or Christmas presents for their grandkids.
Maybe even a young seminarian with $50 to spend on business attire that helps them feel a little more polished, a little more confident. And of course, there are the bargain hunters, waiting until the last minute to fill a bag for just a few bucks.
These, and so many more, are the faces of Rummage. We recognize their faces because for them, like us, Rummage is an annual ritual. It represents a big bold circle on the calendar, marked as early as the new year’s calendar arrives, and recalled as September turns to October.
On that first Thursday in October, Christ Church becomes the picture of diversity … the melting pot for the Chicago metropolitan area.
Yet Rummage is so much more than the throngs of people that flock to The French Room, Sporting Goods, Men’s, Books, Treasures, etc. More than the 400 plus volunteers, many of whom work year round preparing for the sale, or the Winnetka Police Officers who ensure the safety of the streets and safeguard the cash on sale day. Or the Director of Rummage, Steering Committee and Department Chairs who keep it all together!
That next part of the cycle, the distribution of Rummage proceeds–$1 million over the last five years—includes the organizations that help people we may never know or recognize.
Curt’s Café is a new grantee of the Christ Church Rummage sale.
“We are so grateful to be a part of the community, grateful for all of your efforts and the support of Christ Church” says Gayle Nelson, Grant Writer for Curt’s Café.
The grant Curt’s Café received is funding its new location in Highland Park, scheduled to open in mid October. The Cafe will provide employment training for young adults ages 15-24 living in at-risk situations throughout Lake County.
The Highland Park location joins its cafe in Evanston which serves Cook County. Curt’s Café invests $8,334 per student. According to Nelson, 97% complete the program and 82% retain employment or stay in school and become positive forces in society.
“We look forward to welcoming the Christ Church community to the cafe shortly and welcome volunteer support,” Nelson adds.
The Career Resource Center has benefited from the work of Rummage for 26 years, according to Kristina Phillips, the organization’s Executive Director.
“With Christ Church’s help, the CRC has assisted nearly 14,000 local community members and 2,000 returning alumni in seeking the employment they want or deserve,” Phillips says.
CRC’s employment resources focus on helping candidates optimize their search and maximize their results. The organization’s clients gain a critical advantage and become better equipped to market themselves and remain positive during this stressful time in their lives through individualized job coaching sessions, education and training programs, interview preparation, resume creation, and more.
Phillips notes that job seekers have to live with the uncertainty of their future, resulting in stress for their entire family.
“By assisting job candidates to find meaningful work, we help families get back on their feet,” she adds. “With CRC’s guidance, individuals returning to or entering the workforce will reduce or eliminate their reliance on assistance from other social service agencies.”
Moreover, successful employment also means that, once again, candidates can stand proud and return to their communities as contributing members.
“Thank you, Christ Church, for compassionately standing with us as we provide these vital services for members of our community,” concludes Phillips.
The transformational power of Rummage is seen in the hearts and in the eyes of so many different people. Each and every one of them is deserving of God’s grace, no matter the form of that grace.
# # #
The Director and the Queen
It’s very early in the morning the first Thursday in October. The sun has not yet risen over the Lake. Birds are barely chirping. No coffee has been brewed. Heck, Starbucks isn’t even open yet.
But a real sense of excitement is awakening. A crowd of people is beginning to assemble, coming from all over to uncover the mysteries and treasures that await at Christ Church Winnetka.
For Charlotte McGee, the self-proclaimed Queen of Rummage for a 10-year tenure, “At that point in the preparation for Rummage, the emotions are all excitement. Sale Day makes all the work leading up to it worthwhile.”
Though there may be a threat of weather, at that stage both McGee and Annie Adams, our current Rummage Director, agree that it is out of their control, and in the hands of the holder of the master plan.
Adams’ Sale Day tradition involves, weather permitting, a drive to church in her convertible with a quick pit stop at McDonald’s. “I sit out front and enjoy my Sausage McGriddle and watch everyone line up,” Adams says. “It’s my calm before the Rummage Storm of shoppers. But Sale Day is pure joy. I absolutely love the energy or Rummage. I love chatting with our shoppers.”
McGee remembers that by the end of the day, such as 6 pm, pure exhaustion sets in. While Adams also feels that exhaustion, she does a little victory dance. She admits that the euphoria of Rummage Sale Day, and all the good it generates, stays with her for about a week. Then, it’s on to planning the next Pop Up or Estate Sale.
After the dust has settled from a successful Fall Rummage, those who have lead Rummage, whether they were a Queen or a Director, still have plenty of tasks to complete. However, a lot of that work takes place in relative quiet, away from the throngs of people who needed direction and processes that required managing.
And then, like every great ritual or cycle, the buildings blocks of the next year’s Sale start all over again. Drop-off begins taking donations again, the first furniture pick-up takes place and the sorters start coming around once again.
“During those days of October, you get so absorbed in the things that have to get done, and all you hear are echoes in a clean, empty Schroeder building,” Charlotte says. “Then it’s exciting when it starts all over again.”
In so many ways and for so many reasons, Rummage is that incredible series of cycles, like the seasons of the church and the year.
As Adams’ email signature states, Rummage is “a beautiful cycle.” In addition to the routines that occur in preparing for each new Rummage, the cycle is well represented by the people who donate (their time and their rummage), the people who come from all over to shop the sale, and the people and organizations that are benefactors of the net proceeds of the sale.
McGee and Adams were asked, “If you could commission an artist to create a Rummage painting, what would the subject and content be?”
Fully embracing the concept of sustainability and the color associated with it, Adams first suggested something abstract and green, to embrace the concept of sustainability. As she thought further, another thought came to mind – a modern painting comes to mind…a spoof on Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of the former President. Instead of Mr. Obama, Christopher, wearing his collar, a crisp white shirt and jeans, would be in the chair wearing, off center, one of our new You Shop. We Give Rummage Trucker Hats. Hands wide open and upward facing — one resting on his lap, the other on the arm of the chair — he’s holding a cross-section of dogs, children, women and men. All represent the end-beneficiaries of the Charities we support.
McGee first suggested the question was more appropriate for a high school English essay than a question (for a queen) in a church newsletter story. “That’s really a tough one. I’d have to say something very abstract with lots of colors to capture all of the diversity and beauty of Rummage.”
And McGee has lived the beauty of Rummage for more than 25 years. She describes her time affectionately, and her rise from a co-chair to the Steering Committee to becoming Coordinator, and then Queen, as a natural process. After all, she says, she has never been one to walk away from the really big challenges! At the same time, there came a time when she knew it was her time to step down, so that she could maintain the love she has for all that is good about Rummage.
# # #
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
It’s not just a Clint Eastwood movie. It’s a way to describe the bargains, the memories, and the bizarre stories, in no particular order, of Christ Church’s Annual Fall Rummage Sale.
Long time parishioner Carol Schroeder most fondly remembers “the infectious exuberance of my husband regarding anything Rummage-related.” The West Building, where so much of rummage takes place, is dedicated to the memory of Jim, a dedicated Rummage enthusiast.
Another favorite memory, expressed by longtime Church Administrator Molly Ethridge was her husband Ed’s role as tent party auctioneer, a title he held proudly for many years. “He made people laugh and kept the bids competitively climbing,” she says. “He could have sold a shoelace for $500.”
Patti Snickenberger has many fond and affectionate memories from her days at Christ Church and Rummage. She recounted a memory or thought that applies equally as well today as it did years ago.
“A funny thing that always came to mind on the day of Rummage. I’d look around at the (mostly) men comprising the security detail, most of whom at the time were parishioners. It was hard to imagine these kind and gentle souls wrestling a mischief maker to the ground or otherwise confronting him or her. With all due affection, visions of Barney Fife come to mind.”
And then there is the bizarre, most often seen in the sorting room where unspeakable items arrived in unspeakable condition. They were probably dropped off at midnight. Enough said. Carol Schroeder added she always kind of wondered what some of the items were that were sold in the lingerie department.
Another story, but one that boarders more on funny than the bizarre, was one Rummage worker helping a fellow parishioner retrieve a favorite pair of ugly plaid golf pants his wife donated to the cause.
Former Rector Ned Prevost’s most bizarre experience was arriving at Christ Church and moving into the Rectory in early October, the Tuesday before Wednesday’s pre-sale 1992. A couple of days later, on Sale Day he discovered shoppers in their basement “as if it was a Rummage Department/part of the Sale!”
Another bizarre recollection was finding two ladies literally fighting over a red dress in the French Room. A policeman who was present broke up the scuffle telling them, “Neither will get the dress!” Yet one of them snuck back in and took it!
And then there are bargains. And the definition of bargains lies with the beholder. Perhaps it was a unique item, or maybe it was just something at an incredible price. For the Ethridge’s an Oak fireplace mantel purchased at rummage for $15 decorated their fireplace for years, a constant reminder of the bargains. For Ed, it was a paint-by-number portrait of Jesus for a quarter. And no, he wasn’t allowed to hang it over the mantle.
Bev Prevost finds it difficult to narrow it down to one favorite bargain. When pressed, she said, “Maybe the best Rummage bargain was a pristine set of rattan furniture, a sofa, two arm chairs, a coffee table and a corner table, at Summer Rummage which was perfect for our downstairs in Cuttyhunk; the bargain part was rather undone because we had to then rent a van to transport it all the way to New Bedford, MA from Winnetka then get it on the ferry, but it is STILL here as I write and has served us SO well all these years!”
Ned’s best bargains were the $12 Brooks Brothers suits. Whenever someone would compliment him, he had a one-word response, “Rummage.”
Christopher Powell also knows a good bargain when he sees one, like the Tumi computer satchel he bought. Though it had a corporate logo on it, he removed it and had it replaced with his initials. All in Christopher paid $30–$5 for the satchel and then $25 for the nameplate–for something that would have been over $400 new.
Go ahead—to Rummage on October 3—it’ll make your day!
# # #
Big Numbers, Big Memories
It’s a year of big numbers at Christ Church, particularly the numbers associated with Rummage.
95 this is the 95th anniversary
25 the number of Summer Rummages Christ Church has held
4 the number of estate sales that will be completed in 2019, one year after expanding the brand!
1 one church and one community coming together, not just for one day … but for days and days and day of planning and prep; of blood sweat and tears!
Infinity – the number of people whose lives are somehow touched by Rummage … those who donate, those who sort and clean, those who volunteer, those who buy, and those who receive from the bountiful cycle.
As we look ahead to this significant milestone in October, we’re having a lot of fun looking back at the reflections of parishioners old and new, of current and beloved clergy, and of the heads of Rummage, weary and wearier. Following is a chronology filled with reflections from Mary-Anne Badenhorst, Christ Church’s first ever official Rummage Coordinator. (Prior to Mary-Anne it was run by members of the Christ Church Women’s Guild):
October 31, 1994 – Started work at Christ Church at the front desk: receptionist from 11:00 until 3:00. Easy.
I was asked to hire a new custodian and in walked Mario. Great! The next request was to oversee the custodians and rummage. No big deal, I thought, until I went to the West Building, started sorting and fell in love with rummage and the volunteers.
All of a sudden I had a title, Christ Church Rummage Coordinator, the First.
My reign lasted 10 years and rummage dreams still haunt me.
Summer 1995 – Pouring rain all day long. No tents for Summer Rummage.
October 1995 – Sunday school classes were cancelled, rooms on the 3rd floor were transformed into rummage rooms, Melly Turner, Director of Christian Education, took the disruption in her usual stride: Calmness and Grace.
June 1996 – Tents in the parking lot for summer rummage. No rain.
October 1996 – Move from the 3rd floor to the Winnetka Woman’s Club…partitions between Gifts, Table Linens, Handbags, Bath Linens, Sewing and Crafts, Jewelry and Accessories. Maxwell St. in a tent outside of the Great Hall. Great Hall transformed into kids’ department by Charlotte McGee and her helpers.
1996 – The first year we made over 100,000 dollars. Fr. Ned Prevost bought me a celebratory drink at the after party!
While not tied to specific dates or milestones, Mary-Anne shared a variety of reflections:
There were so many dedicated people who spent hours working in sorting every week. To name just a few: Joanie White, Sharon Fonda, Jane Baldwin, Ed Ethridge, Dottie Hobbs and, of course, Larry and Janet Shannon who took all the bedding home to wash and measure every week.
I remember the panic of Flyover and the transformation of the Parish House and Woman’s Club into the best rummage sale in the world under the direction of Anthony, Mario and Carter.
I remember looking at the Great Hall with the piles of blue jeans and being brought to tears. It was the calm before the storm.
I remember the rush of shoppers who ran into their favorite department as soon as we opened the doors.
It is wonderful that rummage has been happening for so many years. I’m wonderstruck by all the good it does….for the volunteers who give back to the church and community, for the shoppers who are able to buy good quality at reasonable prices, the people who donate goods throughout the year and for the recipients of the profits. God is with us.
Thank you for your work and those insights, Mary-Anne!
# # #
Christ Church Rummage: Are There Words to Describe It?
Ask the average person on the street to define the word rummage and you are likely to get very Webster-like phrases. They may use descriptors such as “a confused miscellaneous collection” and/or “the act of making a thorough search or investigation”.
But ask anyone associated with Christ Church’s Annual Fall Rummage, this year celebrating its 95th anniversary, and you’ll likely get more experience-based responses to add to those coming from a dictionary.
For Annie Adams, now into her third full year as Rummage Director, her email signature block expresses it best as “a beautiful cycle.” For Annie, that cycle is best represented by the people who donate (their time and their rummage), the people who come from all over to shop the sale, and the people and organizations that are benefactors of the net proceeds of the sale.
It is impossible to know exactly how many people’s lives have been touched by the “Cycle of Rummage.” But sit for a moment with some facts and figures involving rummage and you can begin to understand the magnitude. In the last five years, Christ Church has donated over $1 million dollars in net proceeds. Those net proceeds are doled out to 60 agencies and organizations throughout Chicago annually. More than 400 people, from near and far, put in countless hours to prepare for and work the day of the sale.
For fun, we asked people to pick three words (or more) that best describe their Rummage experience. Retired and relocated parishioner Ed Ethridge said, “pants shirts and underwear.” Ed, who for years was the emcee of the Tent Party Auction and also logged in hundreds of hours over as a sorter for, you guessed it, the men’s clothing department over 20 plus years.
Molly Ethridge’s words/phrases were “fun, good people and dirty hands.” Patti Snickenberger, once an Associate Rector and now the Rector at St. Lawrence Episcopal Church, affectionately described rummage as “love, spirit-filled and community.”
Betsy Fowle, who’s last Rummage was 20 years ago when she relocated to the east coast after spending a number of years as associate rector responded by saying, “So many words come to mind, so it’s hard to choose just three. Besides the overused amazing, incredible, etc. I think of generosity, community building, bargains, exhilarating and exhausting.”
When asked what she believes Rummage says about Christ Church, Carol Schroeder, a dedicated worker for years in the Men’s Department, responded, “All are welcome here.”
Christopher Powell, Rector, who experienced his first Fall Rummage in 2012 expanded on that saying, “It says that we are staying connected to the social needs of Chicagoans through service and compassion.”
Community, and all that it means, was a constant theme in the way people answered the question, “What does Rummage say about Christ Church?” Katy Knoer, whose family was very active in all aspects of Christ Church until they relocated to Michigan, said, “It says that it (Christ Church) can reach within the community to reach out into the wider community, serving God, by providing an avenue to recycle quality goods, providing high quality merchandise at low prices and reinvesting proceeds back into the community.”
Virtually everyone will agree with Molly Ethridge, a former Church Administrator, added, “What Rummage says about Christ Church is great leadership and people committed to a most benevolent cause.”
The beauty of Rummage, and Christ Church, is that there are no wrong answers in how anyone describes the meaning of this magical event. And whether you work rummage, donate items you no longer can use, or shop for bargains yourself, imagine for a moment the words the true benefactors of Rummage might use to describe this event.
# # #
On the first Thursday in October in 1925, to coincide with Maid’s Day Off, Christ Church Winnetka held its first ever Rummage Sale. And a tradition was born.
No one likely could have imagined just how big, how important Rummage, as an event and as a ministry, would become to Christ Church, the community and the entire Chicago metropolitan area.
When all was said and done, after all the various goods were sold that October in 1925, Christ Church’s Rummage Sale had raised approximately $500 ($7,342.31 in today’s dollars). In the 93 years after that, the growth of Rummage has been exponential.
Further, proceeds from the 2019 the Summer Sale increased by 33 percent (the largest increase ever) and it is expected that by the end of the year Rummage will have hosted a total of four estate sales (the goal was three). Accordingly, the expectations for this year’s Fall Rummage on October 3 are big.
The combination of our Fall and Summer Sales, along with the newest line of Rummage events, the Estate Sales, raised more than $350,000 in 2018. For the last nine years Rummage has raised at least $250,000, and over the last five years the church has donated more than $1 MILLION.
Between now and Fall Rummage, we’ll be bringing you stories of Rummage. Some stories will be more factual, providing interesting facts, figures and tidbits about Rummage at Christ Church. Other pieces will be stories in their own words, highlights and anecdotes from people who have been part of rummage over the years. The goal is to help everyone understand the spirit and history of Rummage.
- Ashley Gerhard was the Rector of Christ Church in 1925. To date we have had six rectors since Rummage began.
- It wasn’t until circa 1995 that we had our first Paid Rummage Coordinator. Each of the first two Rummage Coordinators, including Charlotte McGee, held the position for 10 years.
- In the years before the paid position, Rummage was chaired by volunteers, two of the most recent co-chairs included Georganne Chalmers and Gail Hodges were in that group.
- Approximately 25 years ago a second Sale date, in early June, was added, to further increase the funds Christ Church could raise, and donate to the community.
- Annually there are more than 400 volunteers who work Rummage in some capacity, on the day of sale and throughout the year.
- On average, Christ Church donates proceeds from Rummage to 65 charities and agencies throughout the Chicago area; gifts range from $1,000 to $5,000.
If you have an interesting Rummage anecdote or story to share—the best bargain you ever secured, a “what was I thinking” purchase, or priceless interactions with shoppers—please let us know.