Every year, the Ladies Board Rummage Sale donates its profits to worthy causes in Loudoun. Ladies Board Rummage Sale co-chairs Lisa Cromwell and Sue Clewis sat down with the Loudoun Times-Mirror to talk about their group’s 75-year-old charitable event
Tell us a little bit about the Rummage Sale and the programs it benefits.
This week’s sale is a celebration of our 75th year – what a milestone. This year’s Ladies Board is honored to continue the great tradition of generations of women who donated their time and vision to the county and its hospital. The two-day Rummage Sale is a culmination of months of planning, logistics, and lots of manual labor. It is so rewarding each year to see the investment of time and talent result in much-needed funds for the hospital and nursing scholarship.
The sale also provides essential service to our shoppers and their families, many of whom use the sale to help cover basic clothing and furniture needs. We are expecting more shoppers this year due to the government shutdown and even tighter budgets for area families.
We hear how many families purchase their children’s wardrobes, how young couples furnish their homes, and how moms are able to shop for toys to fill the holiday stocking at Christmas by coming to the Rummage Sale.
The Rummage Sale is administered by the Ladies Board, which has a special relationship with Inova Hospital. How does the board work with the hospital to make meaningful contributions to the community?
The relationship between the Ladies Board and the hospital is special. The Ladies Board began in 1912, before there was a hospital, with the sole objective of raising funds to build what ultimately became Loudoun County’s first hospital.
In the 101 years since our inception, the Ladies Board continues its work to expand to meet the growing needs of the community. Projects such as the nursing scholarship fund, which began in 1958, to recent efforts such as The Birthing Inn, are just two examples of the long-term commitment that the Ladies Board has to assisting Inova Loudoun Hospital in providing quality care.”
Last year, the Ladies Board dispersed $104,000 in nursing scholarships. Why is this such an important investment for the board to make?
Healthcare is a critical profession. We want to make sure that nursing students continue to have the opportunity to train and serve in this field. All of us will need skilled nursing care at some point and we want to make sure that the people willing to take on this important profession have the resources to do so.
The new Affordable Care Act is reshaping the medical field. Who knows what the future holds for nursing opportunities? What will the costs will be? We want to encourage nursing students to stay the course. We need them.
In 2012, the board gave more than $280,000 in donations. In the same year it also raised more than $180,000 from the Rummage Sale. How important is the Rummage Sale in enabling the Ladies Board to fulfill its mission?
We have a dedicated and hard-working volunteer army and when you mix this with the loyal and enthusiastic shoppers who attend the sale, you’ve got a powerful combination of people who have exponentially grown the sale proceeds in recent years. We are happy and grateful to use these funds for the Ladies Board.
We’ve beat our own sales record every year but one since 2003. Loudoun County is one of the richest per capita income areas in the U.S. and it is also one of the most generous. We couldn’t keep this streak of record-breaking without increasing the donations as well as the number of shoppers. Our goal is to do both. The phone calls and e-mails just keep coming from people wanting to donate.
The Ladies Board is so much more than the Rummage Sale. The year-round dedication of our Twice is Nice Thrift Shop, the Hospital Gift Shop, and specialty programs Lights of Love and the Polly Clemens Nursery Fund, all provide critical year-round contributions for our programs.
Why do you think the Rummage Sale has done so well?
We have tremendous pride in the more than 500 volunteers who come out during the week of the sale and the smaller team that works behind the scenes year round to make this such a great event.
We are also very fortunate to have a caring community that donates to our event – without them, we wouldn’t exist. Our donations come from throughout the community and in the spirit of recycling, we’re proud that the donations find new and valued uses, just like the funds generated.
It’s a win-win and we think shoppers and volunteers enjoy being a part of something this positive from all sides.
We have to recognize the growing list of over 50 community leaders and businesses who donate goods and services to the event. They have a profound impact. From providing off-season storage of donated goods, tables, and other equipment; to advertising; to sale week shuttle service, food service, venue provisions, parking support and, of course, donations, they help make the Rummage Sale a success.
What can shoppers be excited about at the Rummage Sale this year?
The exciting thing about rummage is that you never know what’s here until you walk through the door – it’s like having Christmas two weeks before Halloween. While many items are used, there are always new items still in original packaging or with tags--always a pleasant surprise. The generosity of the community donations is astounding.
We do want shoppers to know about the revamped Bag Check area. The Boy Scouts of Loudoun County answered the call and stepped up to take over this department. With “Do Your Best” as their motto, the Boy Scouts will cheerfully and professionally serve our shoppers. The Scouts have an entire tractor trailer set aside to secure your purchases while you look for more bargains.
In celebration of our 75th anniversary, we will be offering a number of gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses as door prizes – 60 seconds to register and you could win lunch for two somewhere in town. That’s a great return.
Is there anything you're particularly looking forward to?
Seeing early-bird shoppers burst through the doors on Saturday morning! The sale has become a destination event with some of our volunteers and customers. It’s always fun to catch up with them each year. Good weather would be nice, too. Historically, we’ve gotten a little too used to saying, “If it’s rummage, it’s raining.”
We love seeing the excitement of a shopper who has just found that unique item or gift. One lucky shopper last year found an unused, vintage kitchen towel from the Linen Department that wound up being identical to one passed down from her grandmother.
You had to double your silent auction space this year. How did that happen?
The auction is always incredibly popular and the team spends months working with generous businesses across the region to secure great items. Because of the outpouring of these donors, we needed more room to showcase these wonderful items. The businesses have shown stronger support this year than ever. We have tickets to a number of things, from the Waterford Concert Series to antique shows to Washington Redskins games. There are even certificates to games at local golf courses. Dining and spa service certificates are popular, too.
What, if anything else, is different about the Rummage Sale in 2013?
The big change is moving to an all-weekend sale. Moving the opening day to Saturday is a seismic shift. We hope the shoppers have gotten the word. We also hope the Friday morning rush-hour commuters appreciate a smoother commute and can now take their Saturday to come to enjoy the sale.
In spite of months of advertising the new sale dates, we are a little nervous that we will turn away a handful of shoppers on Friday that didn’t get our message, but rest assured that we certainly will welcome them on Saturday and Sunday. We tested the shuttle service last year and are excited about offering extended hours this year on Saturday. With 40,000 square feet over six buildings, you need a way to help shoppers get from one place to another.
Ms. Clewis, you are a second-generation Ladies Board member and second-generation Rummage Sale chair. How has the Rummage Sale changed during the time you've been acquainted with it and what does it mean to you to see it now?
It was smaller when my mom was involved, but then so was the county. The sale has evolved into a pretty big regional event now and she would be proud of the impact it has on the community and on those who need the services that we offer.
What is most important for people to know about the Rummage Sale?
We’re here to serve the community. It’s a great way to get involved, and you can have a good time while doing something really meaningful. You can’t have more fun volunteering than you will at this event. The sale has been around 75 years for a reason – people love it!
For event details, click here