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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Annual Tag Sale Gives Hope to Homeless and Hungry

Annual Tag Sale Gives Hope to Homeless and Hungry
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – The work of hundreds of volunteers, donations from thousands of local residents and uncountable man hours all resulted in the successful launch Saturday morning of Operation Hope’s Annual Tag Sale, held in and around First Congregational Church, 148 Beach Road.

Operation Hope’s Executive Director Carla Miklos estimated that the two-day sale (Sunday hours are 12 to 4) is the organization’s 18th annual. “In the old days, we would pull in around $30,000 or $40,000,” she said. “In recent years, the take has been smaller. People do more consigning and eBay these days. Still, we have a lot of generous donations. There are literally thousands of items, including furniture, sporting goods, artwork, frames, mirrors, toys, electronics, housewares, linens, holiday items, jewelry and ‘finer things’ like collectibles.”

Miklos added that, for the last three years, they have been offering hi-end raffle baskets, pulled together from businesses and people in the community. In addition, the Fairfield Rotary Club is on hand selling donuts and coffee in the morning, and hamburgers and hot dogs in the afternoon, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Operation Hope. Sherwood Farm in Easton and Billy’s Bakery have contributed items for sale as well.

The sale funds general operations of Operation Hope’s center at 636 Old Post Road and 50 Nichols Street. The shelter houses 18 men, six women and three families at any given time, according to Miklos. The organization’s food pantry serves 475 unique households. Forty-six units of affordable housing is also scattered throughout Fairfield and Bridgeport. In addition, a community kitchen serves lunch and dinner to anyone that is hungry and a clinical team supports clients’ medical and basic needs.

“It’s hard to put into words how generous the community is,” said Miklos. “The community is a combination of hundreds of volunteers that help with set up, the merchandise donated by people all week, volunteers that work the sale and people that come out to shop for a good cause.”

Among the 50 to 60 volunteers on hand Saturday was former First Selectman Ken Flatto. “When you love your town, you have to keep volunteering,” he said. “I’m pleased to help organizations like Operation Hope. Last week, I was doing a stint at Pequot Library (annual summer book sale). It’s the least I can do.”

Another volunteer, 19-year-old Serena Mistry, a student at the University of Connecticut, said she wanted to help out during the summer before starting back to college and that her efforts would serve as good work experience while helping a great cause.

As to attendees, Sarah Booth, from Southport, who was pacing around a table, said, “I’m looking for furniture to furnish an apartment. I’m seeing many interesting items here. There’s quite a range of quality, styles and great values.”

Tanya Kujan, at checkout, said, “We came down today to see what great stuff we could find. We also donated many items. We’re rotating our stuff. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Operation Hope’s Annual Tag Sale is being held Saturday through 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., inside and around First Congregational Church, 148 Beach Road, at the corner of Old Post Road. Parking is available at the intersecting streets as well as in the parking lot sharing by the church and Gaelic-American Club.

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