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Donating Clothes, More to Local Church
updated May 17, 2007

At approximately 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 17 the first truck will arrive from Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church to collect the piles of clothes, furniture and other items that have been accumulating in the Calvin College residence halls.

Oakdale Park CRC volunteers loading up outside Bolt-Heyns-Timmer.Approximately four weeks later, from June 14 through June 16, to be exact, that trove of collected items will be sold at the annual Oakdale Park rummage sale. Proceeds for the sale benefit the church’s youth programs.

The donation and the sale are a 13-year-old Calvin-Oakdale Park tradition.

“I was just in one of the dorm lobbies, and there’s a nice pile starting there,” says Calvin dean of residence life John Witte of the college side of the partnership.

As students leave for the summer, he explains, the checkout process requires that they empty their rooms and dispose of unwanted items (additional collections will be made on Monday, May 21 at the college apartments).

“Before we began donating these things to Oakdale Park," adds Witte, "students were either storing them or throwing them away or hauling them home. This does reduce the amount of material that gets thrown out.”

The donation benefits the church in a big way, explains Lyn Vanden Bosch, the yearly coordinator of the three-day extravaganza.

“People in the neighborhood are already asking, ‘When is the sale?’ Many of them count on it to outfit their whole family. They’re delighted to get such great clothes because Calvin kids donate really nice things. It’s a real outreach to the neighborhood.”

They donate a lot of jeans and sweaters and shoes, but also books and CDs and DVDs and toys and couches and lamps and mini refrigerators and televisions and other small appliances. The items, which take weeks to sort, are sold throughout the church.

The sale begins at 9 a.m. and has no fixed ending time.

“A lot of people in the neighborhood are working,” Vanden Bosch says, “and we keep it going until things start to quiet down.”

Typically, the sale nets between four and five thousand dollars for Oakdale Park’s Wednesday night activities, children’s choir, summer day camp and other youth programs, which draw children from both the both church and the surrounding neighborhood. Many of the kids who will benefit from the sale will also work in the weeks leading up to it, prepping for the event.

“It’s kind of cool that they can be involved both ways,” Vanden Bosch says.

The Calvin-Oakdale Park partnership had its genesis in 1994 when Kristin Vanden Bosch, a daughter of Oakdale Park’s pastor, inaugurated the donation in her Calvin dorm, Bolt-Heyns-Timmer.

“It’s a great partnership," Witte says. "It benefits our students, and it benefits the church -- as well as the many folks who come to the sale."

~words and photo by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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