Declutter for a Cause

April 14, 2011

With less than one month until the ‘Declutter for a Cause’ fund raiser, the staff at Gardiner Realty Royal LePage are busy with more than just selling houses.  Around the table in a small board room staff and volunteers rapid fire ideas at each other, interspersed with laughter.  If excitement was the colour yellow, you would swear you were in a field of sunflowers. 

On Saturday, May 14, 2011 offices from coast to coast will hold their annual garage sale for the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation.  For the second year in a row, Gardiner Realty in Fredericton will donate 100 per cent of their proceeds to the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation. 

The mission of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation is to help erase domestic violence from society through funding; not only women’s shelters but also education and awareness programs to prevent the abuse from happening.  “Last year across the country we raised $1.8 million toward eliminating family violence, so that is a huge contribution to the country and to put abuse out of commission,” said Fredericton owner and broker Lincoln Thompson.  Thompson says working with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation is a good fit for their office because they want to give back to the local community.

Left to right; Therese Murray, Sharon Watts, Lincoln Thompson, Kelly Murdock

Gardiner Office Administrator Sharron Watts spearheads the logistics of the annual event.  She says the fit with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation works because the Foundation acts as a distributor.  “They’re kind of the hub of it and they branch out to all the shelters in Fredericton and help all of them, so it’s not just one particular shelter, they make sure the wealth is spread around.  What they’re doing to stop family violence is incredible so we thought they would be the best group to benefit from our proceeds.”

As Executive Director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation, Therese Murray was thrilled when Gardiner Realty contacted her in conjunction with their garage sale.  “It’s not every day that someone calls you and says ‘we’d like to raise money for you’, and that’s a huge benefit to anyl organization like the Foundation… when the community kicks in like this it really helps to keep momentum of the work that we’re involved in moving forward.”  The Foundation also provides grants for research projects, transition houses, youth groups and more.  “We can actually provide grants to all those necessary causes to put the money into the hands of those people who are doing the work,” Murray said. 

Last year the garage sale raised more than $3,200, triple the amount they raised the year before.  Watts says the biggest challenges from an organizational standpoint are getting all the donations set up for the sale and having enough staff and volunteers on hand to help the more than 300 visitors to the event.  Thompson says an added challenge is the middle of May is their peak time in the busy real estate season.

Gardiner Realtor Kelly Murdock says she juggles working the sale and keeping her clients happy on this busy Saturday.  “My first year I came in here to write up an offer in the middle of the day and I had my client meet me here,” she said.  Thompson chimes in that they bought a house and stuff from the yard sale.  Murray appreciates the “true donation” saying the staff give of their time and Royal LePage takes care of all the organizational costs so the charities can benefit 100 per cent.

Murdock says the amount the charities receive makes a big difference to how the public feels about donating.  “A lot of people… don’t give because they fear that the money is going towards something else, not going towards what they have a passion about.”

‘Declutter for a Cause’ garage sale is a donation of time for the staff of Gardiner Realty, however it takes the generosity of the community to have stuff to sell.  Gregg Doucette and staff at Premier Van Lines in Oromocto have donated their time and resources to the cause by picking up and storing all garage sale items and then delivering them to the sale.  Watts said last year they had three moving trucks full of goods and it’s already looking like this year will be bigger than ever.  Doucette listed off a number of items they had already collected including beds, headboards, TVs, office furniture, fitness equipment, a futon, leather wing back chairs and even an antique organ.

Watts says there is always too much stuff to price individually so they set up tables with different dollar amounts on them.  Larger items may be ticketed with prices.  Of course everyone loves a bargain at a garage sale, but the staff is asking buyers to keep in mind that “Negotiations are for real estate, this is for charity”.  Generosity at the garage sale directly impacts the work of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation and all the shelters and programs they support. 

Thompson expects to be on site very early on May 14 and says coffee and ‘Gardiner Shelter Wraps’ will be available for shoppers.  Wear your comfortable shoes and plan to stay awhile, it’s a big garage!  “So if you can picture our front parking lot virtually covered with goods and materials, furniture and clothes and books, you name it we had it.  Literally the whole parking lot…” said Thompson.

Support can come in various ways; donate your gently used items, come shopping or both!

Donations are still being accepted for the garage sale and can be arranged with Sharon Watts at 451-1233.  The ‘Declutter for a Cause’ garage sale takes place at 927 Prospect Street on Saturday, May 14 from 7am to 1pm.