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YMCA White Elephant Sale postponed due to pandemic

COVID-19 halts annual sale that provides camp scholarships

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — It's one of the areas biggest bargain hunting events of the year. It's also one of the biggest fundraisers for the YMCA Service Club. Now, for the first time ever in more than 8 decades. YMCA's White Elephant Sale has been postponed due to COVID-19. 

"Obviously that was a shocker. So, we stopped accepting donations and working at the site when all this really started happening. That was actually prior to the Stay at Home order," Greg Winer, Co-Chair, YMCA White Elephant Sale. "It's just huge and everybody is so generous. We have so many people, right now, just waiting to donate right now. Corporations and companies around the area have donated stuff over the years. It's like just a massive garage sale on steroids."

The YMCA Service club organizes the event to help provide support and resources for YMCA Camp Manitou Lin located in Barry County, near Middleville. Proceeds go into capital improvements at the camp and to provide camp opportunities for children and teenagers.

Credit: Greater Grand Rapids YMCA

"Over the years, the money has been used for capital improvements to create new buildings there. Lately it's been for a lot of scholarships for kids to go to camp that usually can't afford to do it. So, it's raised a lot of money over the years to do all those wonderful things. It's a great, great program," he says. 

The sale is set to take place in a 80,000-square feet building at 3450 Plainfield Ave. NE. The location had organizers excited about this year's sale.

RELATED: Annual White Elephant Sale offers huge bargains to benefit YMCA camp

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"That site we're at right now is probably the biggest site that we've ever been in over the years. We can really fill it with a lot of stuff. We have sold from there several times over the years," says Winer. " When we've been there we've sold well over $100,000 worth of merchandise and from that then we've been able to donate upwards of $50,000 to $80,000 to the camp. It just a fantastic thing that raises a lot of money."

Planning for the event started way back in January. Winer says the plan is to continue to store the merchandise that has already been donated, until they are able to collect more and eventually make a firm date for this year's White Elephant Sale.

"Our goal and our hope is that will be either late summer or early fall. That's what we're praying for. I mean, we've got a lot of stuff at the site right now and like I said, we've got a lot of people that want to donate a lot more stuff. So, our goal is to still try to have it this year yet, we haven't given up yet," says Winer. "So far, the owners of the building have been very generous with us and they've allowed us to leave everything there. They've got no plans for the space currently. They're being nice and letting us just hold the stuff there. If it goes longer, the other option is that we clear out and we put everything onto our storage trailers and we wait until next year."

Winer says right now they will remain in a holding pattern and wait for things to "get back to normal."



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