This weekend, the 43rd Annual Settlement Home Garage Sale will jam the Palmer Event Center with donated merchandise in 21 departments, from home goods to art, toys to tools. Last year sales from the event raised a record $1.2 million for the Settlement Home, a private, licensed nonprofit that cares for children who come from abusive and neglectful backgrounds.
Over the weekend, more than 10,000 shoppers will browse for bargains, with some bringing in their own shopping carts to manage their haul. But today a smaller group of shoppers will be able to purchase basic-need items thanks to the Settlement Home’s voucher program called Giving for Living.
Since 2001, Settlement Home has partnered with dozens of Central Texas nonprofits to provide $25 vouchers for individuals and families they serve. In 2017, more than 1,500 vouchers were redeemed for more than $76,000 worth of merchandise. Most shop with vouchers on Sunday, when many items are priced half-off. Later on Sunday afternoon, they can take advantage of the “box sale”, which allows anyone to purchase a box for $5 to fill up with as much merchandise as it can hold.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but that $25 actually goes a long way,” said Danielle Bornowski, Settlement Home communications director. Voucher shoppers pick up clothing, shoes, household items, and other basic needs, with most items priced less than $10 or even $5. And because each member of the family is eligible to receive a voucher, they can pool the vouchers to buy more. Bornowski adds that because the sale takes place during the holidays, parents and their children also tend to purchase Christmas gifts for each other with the vouchers.
Veronica Panduro works with teen parents and families in Central Texas, and she says the vouchers can really make a difference for them. “It’s just a really exciting program for our clients to get connected to,” she said. “They look forward to it all year.” Panduro’s organization, Strengthening Relationships/Strengthening Families, supports young parents at eight area high schools. Other nonprofit beneficiaries include Any Baby Can, Muslim Community Support Services, People’s Community Clinic, and about 50 more.
Settlement Home also partners with nonprofits to make sure nothing that was donated during the year is left at the end of the sale. Worn linens are donated to the Austin Humane Society for the animals. Worn T-shirts are sent to a women’s prison project where they up-cycle them to make bags for use at local food pantries. Throughout the year, Settlement Home partners with 20 other nonprofits to make sure no donation goes to waste. And anything left at the end of the garage sale is donated to the Salvation Army.
“At the end of the weekend, nothing’s left,” said Burnowski. “It’s bare bones. Then we start collecting donated items all over again in January. It’s amazing, Austin is a really giving community.”
Photo: The Settlement Home Garage Sale offers nonprofit clients vouchers to purchase discounted items they need. Contributed by Settlement Home.