By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
If your wish list includes a Super Princess Peach lunch box, a set of drinking glasses featuring the Peanuts gang, an Alvin the Chipmunk bank and a giant inflatable snow globe, you may want to stop by Findlay High School and check out Findlay First Edition’s annual garage sale.
All of these items and more will be offered for sale today, Friday and Saturday as a fundraiser to help offset the cost of travel and expenses for FFE families.
“I make a joke the other day: ‘We have everything and the kitchen sink — several kitchen sinks,'” laughed FFE director Kevin Manley.
This year marks the 34th year for the show choir, which is open to Findlay High School students in grades 10-12. Singers/dancers are selected through an audition process held at the end of the school year. Manley said 90 students applied; 52 were chosen. The group also includes eight crew members and 17 instrumentalists.
The annual garage sale is organized by the parents of FFE members. Although Manley isn’t sure about the dates, he suspects the sale has been held the past 15 to 20 years. It was organized the first year as a way to pay the choreographer who leads FFE members during camp, which is always held this week in July.
“We learn a show this week,” said Manley. “Singers/dancers are here from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and we’ll put four songs together and then we do a show at the end of the week on Saturday at 4 p.m.”
The first year’s sale generated $500, he said.
“They learned a lot that first year. And then the second year, they made $5,000,” he said.
Annual profits stayed between $5,000 and $7,000 for a long time, according to Manley.
“So it turned into a fundraiser for the group, as well,” he said. “Then one year we had a big year and it went up to $10,000. And then that really motivated the parents.”
Last year’s total was nearly $14,000. Money goes into the general fund to help pay for expenses such as costumes.
“Costumes are a major expense,” said Manley. “That’s about $25,000 to $30,000 a year for costumes. And we pay our choreographer throughout the season.”
Co-chairs Denise McCutchen and Robin Walters-Powell are heading up a committee of about 15 parents who have been working on the sale since May. Many others volunteer throughout the week with sorting, pricing and selling.
Walters-Powell said this is her fourth year helping with the sale. She decided to serve as a co-chairwoman this year because her daughter will be a senior.
“It takes a crazy amount of time and effort and volunteers, but it will be worth it,” she said. “This is the biggest start we’ve ever had.”
Donations from the public are accepted throughout the week prior to the start of the sale.
“We get the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Manley. “I mean, there’s some stuff that’s not sellable, but there’s a lot of great stuff out there.”
Manley said he was surprised by the amount of donations that had already come in as of Tuesday morning.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that much stuff at this point,” he said.
Want a Ben Roethlisberger Gridiron Gladiator action figure still in the package? It’s in the sale. Need baskets? There are a mountain of them waiting to be sold. How about books? They have hundreds.
An early bird sale will be held this evening. That’s when you’ll see the serious garage salers, Manley said.
“There are a lot of people here,” he said. “They’ll start lining up around 4. And the line goes all the way … last year it went down all the way past the freshman wing.”
Prices start at 50 cents. And Saturday is bag day, meaning anything that fits into a paper bag can be purchased for $1.
“I think it does provide a little bit of a service to the community,” Manley said. “Obviously we make money, but I think there’s some people out there in the community that need things like this.”
Walters-Powell said numerous nonprofits come in near the end of the sale and take items their own organizations can use.
“We’re going to donate the rest of it,” she said. “Focus on Friends is having a rummage sale in a few weeks for a fundraiser, so they want anything we don’t sell. It’s very rewarding.”
FFE holds other fundraisers throughout the year, including a spaghetti dinner, show choir competition and cabaret, said Manley.
“We also sell candy bars and traditional fundraisers,” he said. “And that goes for the trip. This year they will be going to Nashville and will be on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
“I just want the community to know how grateful we are,” he said. “We’re so blessed by the donations you see here, by the people that will come in and buy things, by the people that come to our performances. It’s incredible.”
The sale is held in the high school cafeteria, 1200 Broad Ave. Hours are 5-8 p.m. today; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
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