PEPPERELL -- Over the past few weeks, town residents and church goers rallied behind the Pepperell Community Church, donating everything to the annual fall yard sale, right down to the kitchen sink; by the time the sale rolled around on Oct. 13, the church was spilling over into the backyard with everything from dainty jewelry and gold leafed teacups to wicker furniture and toy rocking horses. The items were divided into separate departments, from toys to books to furniture and everything in between. Although not everything sold by the end of the day, shopper Kim Sherry did end up purchasing the sink-- an antique dry sink.
As shoppers walked through and browsed the rows of tables, the smell of the deep fryer and the grill percolated the air, enticing patrons to take a break from shopping for a bowl full of French fries and a hamburger or hot dog.
The sale began over 15 years ago as the Apple Harvest Festival, complete with a pie contest and a dunking tank. But as the economic climate changed, the festival morphed into the smaller sale it is today. Linda Mangini, church secretary, said the sales would likely not result in more than $2,000.
"It's a small effort but it's fun," said Mangini.
Still, the church is less concerned with the funds they raised than being able to connect to the town residents.
"The whole purpose is to get the church out to the community, to get people the items they might need," said Paul Vieira, member of the stewardship commission.
Shopper Lynne Kenison, a member of the church, has been coming to the sale for years, from its previous incarnation as the Apple Harvest Festival. She said the sale was a great opportunity to begin her Christmas shopping, especially as the sale boasted one-of-a-kind items, such as the hand-stitched doily she bought her mother.
"It's so intricate. You can't find this in a lot of places," she said.
Kenison also wanted to show support for the church she's been a member of for over 15 years.
"My kids went through Sunday school here," she said. "I want to help keep them going and to pay the bills."
A separate department was set up inside the building for higher quality donated items such as gold jewelry and wine glasses. The Church Mouse Boutique was set up three years ago by Melissa Ribaudo.
"We were getting all these nice donations in some cases, so I just said why can't we repurpose them and clean them up?" said Ribaudo. "It seems to be well-received."
Mangini said it was a nice way to distinguish items that were of a higher value.
"When people come to a yard sale, they probably want to spend 25 cents. This is for people who want to know the value of things and want to spend $5 or $10," she said.
Because the church is a community church, it is not fed through the Vatican, said Mangini.
"So everything we do, we have to raise the money to give back to the community," she said.
Georgette Rogers, manning the book department with Eric Dennis, said she wasn't expecting to pull in a lot of cash, but the sale was a good way to repurpose usable items.
"We never make a lot with the books, but I look at it kind of like recycling," she said.
Any items that were not sold went back into storage for the next sale.
Nancy Hynes was volunteering at the sale, but she also took the opportunity to help out the church by buying some items herself.
"Some of the stuff I buy for gifts, some of the stuff I buy for myself," she said. "When I've had my fun with them I donate them back to the church and then they're new for someone else."