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Haggling takes a holiday

A Lakewood church has the right stuff for an unusual display of generosity.

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 5, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- As members of Lakewood United Church of Christ planned their rummage sale, a different idea took hold. How about a giveaway instead?

"It was my idea and the congregation agreed to it," said Nadine Miller, a coordinator of the giveaway.

So Saturday, instead of marking items with price tags, the church gave away everything from bed linens to lawn mowers.

"I felt like that's what our church is about, not just saying we're Christians and God will provide and if you ask for it you shall receive it," Miller said.

"We had an incredible amount," said Melissa Metcalfe, the giveaway's other coordinator.

Metcalfe said the church, at 2601 54th Ave. S, had not had its annual rummage sale for at least two years. The stuff accumulated. Miller said fewer people each year wanted to take on the task of sorting and pricing all the items, so she suggested they just give it away.

People were given two shopping bags. "They could fill up the bags with whatever they needed and one big item," Miller said. "Some people we gave more bags to."

About 15 church members staffed the event in the fellowship hall. They gave away recliners, a complete twin bed and a lawn mower. Miller said one man got what he really needed.

"It was obvious he had had a stroke," she said. He was looking for a walker.

"We had several walkers!" Miller said.

They also had a lot of kitchen items, including a battery-operated mixer and a lot of "little things that cost you a fortune if you have to buy them all for your kitchen," Metcalfe said.

Pastor Kim Wells said it was done as a gesture of generosity.

"There was no intention of making money," she said. "That wasn't our intention or our goal."

The church did collect $231 in donations, Miller said. She said the annual rummage sale usually generates $1,500 to $2,000, which is used for other ministries.

"We will have faith that our budget deficit will be made up," Miller said. "Somehow God always does provide. The idea was just to really show Christian love."

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