Opinion / David Rucquoi
Published 12:50 pm, Thursday, May 5, 2011
For the last two years I have had the opportunity to be chairman of the Darien Boy Scouts annual tag sale. In that role, as I have told our volunteers, I am able to see many ways our efforts impact others, and feel responsible to give every volunteer the benefit of that perspective. Having said that, we also have many constituents throughout our community to whom I owe the same opportunity.
To put this in a bit of context, for about 40 years (there is some uncertainty when the sale actually started) the Darien Boy Scouts tag sale has evolved from taking place in someone's garage to the community enterprise that it is today. With around 450 volunteers, we set up 11 tents totaling approximately 15,000 square feet of "retail" space. Most of the tents, shelving and tables are taken up, and taken down, in one to two days. During the month of April, we carry out more than 150 pickups throughout the community in addition to the many people who drop off merchandise. While our donating community is mostly within Darien, our purchasing community includes Darien and all the surrounding towns, especially inner-city Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford. Late in the day on May 1 we stopped counting customers, but we can say we had more than 2,000 buyers.
Throughout the collection process our Scouts are involved in helping people who are renovating, moving, downsizing, liquidating estates or simply adjusting their lives to different circumstances.
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Often our boys have the benefit of learning the origins of some antique, or what a record is, how ammunition cases were in use after WWII, or that their grandparents actually had some cool toys. In some homes our boys see a standard of living far above their own, and are aware that they are only providing a convenience, for the benefit of valuable merchandise. In other homes we are called to, the boys witness life's challenges, with the awareness that they have provided a service, and for the benefit of little more. And, in most cases, the materials that are picked up or donated are given a new life, proving ecological and economic value to the community. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of this is seeing last year's bike being dropped off for an upgrade -- again.
On the day of our sale, the property at 140 West Ave. becomes a bizarre combination of cultures and languages. The conversations we have divulge our buyers as single mothers, unemployed, newly married, college bound, immigrants, collectors and curious. My favorite this year was a young single mother who, brandishing a big smile, rushed from tent to tent saying, "Out of my way, I'm a mother on a mission," as she greeted our volunteers, remembering them from the year before.
After our tag sale we work with about 14 not-for-profit agencies that comb through our treasures for whatever might be of use to them.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind uses kennels to help raise guide dogs. Hindley Happening is able to get baskets for its silent auction.
Darien Community Association, Salvation Army, a collection of thrift shops, a woman's shelter in Bridgeport, and Computers for Guatemala (which refurbishes computers and sends them to benefit children in a poor community, using our stuffed animals for shipping, later distributing them to the children), also benefited from the sale.
At the end, anything that is worth reusing is left at the Darien Swap Shop, while the remainder is sorted for recycling, as much as possible.
But the primary goal of the tag sale is to help us continue scouting in Darien. Currently we have about 150 Boy Scouts, from middle through high school, who are working their way through the ranks from Tenderfoot to Eagle, having life-changing experiences and learning valuable lessons. Not the least of which are contained in the Scout Law, and emphasized through all we do, that "a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."
To the entire Darien community, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for your generous donations, purchases, and help in so many ways.
Ring's End Lumber supports us in more ways that we can innumerate.
The Darien Police are absolutely stellar in their guidance and support. And perhaps there is no one in our community to whom we owe a greater debt of gratitude than our many neighbors.
I hope this description of our event helps every community participant better appreciate the breadth and value of their contribution; and, once again, on behalf of the Boy Scouts and their families, thank you Darien for your continued help and support.