Spotlight on Rummage: One Hundred Thousand Reasons

(Pictured above are some of the 17 members of Kenilworth Union’s Outreach Committee: Bill Evertsberg, Kathy Piepgras, Robin Roberts, Holly Halsted-Smirl, Julie Danilek, Margaret Ann Fowler, Christine Cole, Jessica LeFebvre and Peter Schaff.)

Outreach Committee Chair Christine Cole knows there are at least 100,000 good reasons why Kenilworth Union Church’s annual Rummage Sale is so important.

That’s the average number of dollars Rummage contributes every year to the Church’s benevolences—or almost one quarter of the approximately $400,000 the Church awards to social service agencies helping those in need in the Chicagoland area.

Just how vital those dollars are became crystal clear last year when the future of rummage was uncertain. Even if the Church stepped up other fundraising efforts, nothing would come close to raising the kind of charitable dollars Rummage generates, Cole said.  Without Rummage, the church would have had to stop funding 10 to 15 of its 40 Outreach agencies.

“That’s a lot. We’ve done enough culling that there are not a lot of weak links ” among agencies being funded by the Church, she said.  The highly-skilled 17-person Outreach Committee, supplemented by an additional 65 church members who serve as liaisons to Outreach agencies, uses a rigorous process to select and monitor these grant recipients.

“Not only do all these agencies need this money but trying to reach consensus about which quarter to drop would have been very difficult,”  she said. The church has had long and deep relationships with many of them.

Just how much difference do those dollars make? Consider Hillside Food Pantry in Evanston, which distributes food to 2,500 low-income families a month in Evanston, Wilmette and the north side of Chicago. As a new Outreach beneficiary, they received the minimum grant of $5,000.

“That $5,000 enabled them to buy another commercial refrigeration unit,” Cole said. “The vast majority of what they distribute is fresh food—meats, vegetables, and fruits. The only way they can grow their operation and feed more people is to have this additional storage. And, believe me, the needs out there are real. People don’t show up at a food bank like this and wait in line if they don’t really need it,” she said.

The Church focuses its Outreach giving in four areas: education and child-centered services, emergency services, healthcare (including mental health), and community services.

So if you ever think about donating those things you no longer need to some other charity, or shopping for bargains elsewhere, please think twice—and redouble your commitment to Rummage instead.

Now that you know how important Rummage is, consider contributing some time to it as well. Come to the Rummage Welcome Coffee May 9 at 9:30 a.m. in the Culbertson Room to find ways you can help. Not only is volunteering fun but it’s as essential to Rummage as those dollars.