“My family took in some other children,” said the mother of three. “The church gave us shopping vouchers.”
Wills used the vouchers to obtain school clothing for the children both in the fall and spring.
Children’s Market started in 2003 as an effort by the New Beginnings Sunday School class to raise money for a needy family. Total attendees at the first sale were about 60, said Elizabeth Renfroe, who serves as the sale’s contact person, and, last year, the customers numbered in the thousands.
This year’s sale begins Wednesday and will run through Sept. 15 at the church.
It is hard to estimate how much money is raised at the event, as some of the profits go toward the vouchers. However, the sale brought in $800 the first year, which yielded about $250 for the needy family, and the total raised last year was several times that. Twenty-five percent of the profits obtained from the sale support the children’s ministries at FUM.
“It is an event everyone looks forward to,” said the church’s minister of children, Stacie Johnson. “The whole church is involved.”
Renfroe helped with the first and subsequent ones.
“I love the consignment sale,” said Renfroe, who adds that the sale has many benefits to the church and the community.
“The sale has brought us together,” said Renfroe. “The Methodist church has always been about missions and outreach to the community. Children’s Market is another way for our congregation to work together and help our community.”
Some of the families the church has helped through Children’s Market have later become members. Also, any leftover merchandise has been donated to local charities.
This year, for the first time, church members are asking the shoppers to take part in the Wishing Stars program, by buying items that will be donated to certain needy children and families.
Children’s Market works by enlisting the help of consignors who keep a minimum of 75 percent of the proceeds from their sales. Often, they also volunteer in other areas. This gives them additional benefits, such as shopping at Children’s Market in advance.
The volunteers donate countless hours in the six weeks leading up to the sale, helping with tasks such as advertising and scheduling the 240 consignors.
Consignors bring in items from a special guidelines sheet: baby equipment, toys, sporting good, seasonal children’s clothing and shoes for infants to young adults, and women’s accessories. (They cannot sell children’s cribs, and some items are refused if there is a recall on them or if the items would not be appropriate to be sold in a church.)
Shoppers will be glad to know that new merchandise is put out throughout the week, and the prices are discounted the last two days, down to 50 percent for the public.
The church encourages those who wish to become consignors at the spring sale to register online at www.jaxfumckids.org. When the registration opened this year, 150 consignors signed up within 36 hours.
This year, several additional events will take place during the fall sale.
• On Wednesday, State Farm insurance company’s Mike Douglas is sponsoring a children’s car seat safety check from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Also on Wednesday, volunteers will give the first 100 shoppers a goody bag, including a cupcake from Mad Hatter bakery.
• On Thursday, Smoke-N-Hot BBQ will sell from their food truck.
• On Friday, Jacksonville Art Works will offer an art class for children at 3:30 p.m. for $10 per child.
• On Saturday, children may enjoy inflatables and face painting.
“Last fall, people were lined up all the way to McDonald’s on opening morning,” said Renfroe.
What: Children’s consignment sale
When: Wednesday through Sept. 15.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 8 a.m.-noon Saturday (50 percent off); 3-4 p.m. Saturday (75 percent off).
Where: Jacksonville First United Methodist Church, 109 Gayle Ave. SW, behind McDonald’s restaurant.