Spotlight on Rummage:
Families Volunteering Together

(Rummage coordinator Cris Guthrie and children Mack, Liam, and Devlin)

Cris, Mack, Liam and Devlin Guthrie didn’t start out volunteering for Rummage as a family. It just worked out that way. Happily.

Cris had volunteered for Rummage in one way or the other for a long time. Then, a few years ago, when Mack and Liam were in 6th or 7th grade, they started working Rummage  to get service hours for Boy Scouts.

“They loved it so much they far exceeded the hours they needed. And they kept going back every summer,” Cris said.

Then last summer, before entering 7th grade, Devlin signed up for Rummage to get service hours for her silver award in Girl Scouts.

Pretty soon, “We were having some pretty fun dinner time conversations,” Cris said, with kids saying, “Did you see this?” or “Did you hear about that?” or “Can you believe somebody brought that in?”

The Guthries are like many other Kenilworth Union Church families in which parents and kids join together in working at Rummage. Sometimes, parents and their offspring work side by side, as Cris and Devlin did last summer in the girls department. That had its benefits.

“It was nice with a teenage girl. You’re sorting away and you wind up talking in ways we don’t talk on a regular basis,” Cris said.

With her boys, who are now going into 11th grade, it’s been different. She hardly sees the boys when they are volunteering. They are busy carrying boxes from one department to another, or fetching hangers or other supplies, or checking electronics or toys to make sure that everything worked.

Gina Gooden, who directs Rummage volunteers, noted there are many jobs youth can do—from schlepping to hanging to folding to tagging to sorting. She says there are jobs that even a five-year-old can do, when working side by side with a parent, which can enable young parents to enjoy the service and camaraderie of Rummage.

Gina said the most important attribute for youth volunteers is “being flexible—being willing to help out whenever needed, knowing that no job is too small to be valuable.”

Cris said working rummage has been good for her kids.
Her sons “got to know everyone. It increased their confidence. And they got valuable experience interacting with adults, looking them in the eye and asking them what they need,” she said.

She would encourage other parents to let their kids work rummage with them.  And as soon as they get the hang of it, “My advice is don’t hover on them. Let them go off and own it and have the independence to do it.”