Students’ Garage Sale for Houseless Shelter


Everyone is in a giving spirit at the garage sale hosted by five American University students. Music crowded the space as students and residents of surrounding neighborhoods browsed the racks and dropped clothing and accessories in the donation bins.


The garage sale took place close to the American University campus on Rodman Avenue NW on March 22, 2010. The space was arranged with a shopping section, a donation station, checkout, and refreshments. The tables were organized by price and item category. The atmosphere was friendly and open, with flyers about the cause floating around the room while the students shopped the racks. The residents in the area also came by, mostly donating clothing and household items.


The event was implemented in hopes of raising money for the organization House of Ruth. House of Ruth is a homeless shelter that caters to women, children, and families in the DC metropolitan area. The students are a part of a volunteering organization on campus and previously visited the center to help with administrative task. One of the students Anastasia Antoinette said, “It was supposed to be a one day thing, but we ended up getting close to the residents and workers. We really wanted to continue to help them.” 


At the closing of February, the students began to think of ways they could raise money and resources for the residents at House of Ruth. “We wanted the event to be something that was fun, but also cheap to produce. It didn’t take us long to come up with the idea to hold a community garage sale,” says Brittany Luis, junior at American University. 


The preparation for the garage sale was a 2-month process. The students collaborated with a few friends from other universities in the area to have a vast audience and demographic. Donation bins were arranged around American University, George Washington University, and family businesses where students and neighborhood residents gave their unwanted items for the support of House of Ruth.


“We took advantage of the thrifting trend. We’re college students, and I’ve noticed that we have slowed down on spending hundreds of dollars on stuff. We advertised directly to college students and in neighborhoods in the area,” stated Luis.


The students planned a garage sale in which one could both donate and buy items such as clothing, shoes, households, and books, etc. All of the money and clothing collected would be donated directly to House of Ruth. To insure that the garage sale would be no cost, they used their resources. 


“My Aunt owned a shop in Maryland, so we had racks and tables for free. One of the girl’s friend is a DJ for music and we made our own advertisements. The hardest part was finding a space,” said Chelsea Jameston, 19, junior at American University.


Fortunate enough, the group of students found salvation in a neighborhood resident who heard about the cause. ” My niece goes to the University and told me about her friend’s problem. I was at the end of moving and I had a free place,” said Jennifer Scholtz, 41. 


The garage sale lasted 6 hours and by the end of the last sale the students had raised $330 for House of Ruth along with large bags of clothing donated by the neighborhood residents. “I honestly didn’t think we would get that much! We really just wanted to help out. Its cool that we have that much to give them,” says Antoinette.


“I cleaned out my office and brought the stuff here. I ended up leaving with more than I came with,” says Aaron Bolton, 22. Because mostly college students participated, the items were marketed toward them as well. Many of the students continued to say it was similar to “shopping your friend’s room”.



“One of my friends helped organize it so of course I came by! They had really cool things to buy for great prices,” said Meghan Leighton, sophomore at George Washington University.


Also, in attendance was one of the volunteers at the House of Ruth. She stayed the entire time of the garage sale and frequently spoke with shoppers and donators about the work the center does. “I’ve been volunteering at “the house” for last 4 years. It’s hard to get college students to take the time without getting credit, but they did and did a great job,” says Samantha Stephens, 31.