December 10, 2017

Annual weekend sale to provide relief to areas in need

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MIO –– The 51st annual Northern Michigan Relief Sale is expected to bring thousands to Oscoda County Aug. 4-5 in an effort to provide assistance to needy areas around the globe.

The two-day event is overseen by the Mennonite Central Committee, which disperses the funds raised to ongoing relief projects such as assistance to hurricane survivors in Haiti, providing fresh resources to areas without clean drinking water, and to refugees from Syria, Ukraine, Turkey and Iraq, according to relief sale Director Carl Dube.

“One of the things that MCC has done is worked at finding ways that safe water can be provided for a village or town somewhere that otherwise wouldn’t have that,” Dube said. “So many diseases are waterborne that can devastate a community in a short amount of time. In Michigan with all the rain it almost seems like water is a nuisance, but it’s so precious in their areas.”

The event will begin Friday, Aug. 4, with a garage sale, used book sale, baked goods sale and silent auction. There will be food for sale throughout the day including several hundred gallons of soup, according to Dube. Later on in the day there will be a concert performed by two bands, The Gospelmen and the Foresters, who perform southern and traditional gospel music.

A relief sale run will be held Friday with registration beginning at 6 p.m. The run is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Dube said there will be categories for male and female runners with breakdowns of different ages and runners of all ages and ability are welcome. Medals will be awarded to finishers in each category following the race.

“We understand from counting we usually get 1,000-1,500 people to attend Friday throughout the day, and on Saturday (we get) somewhere in the range of 2,000,” he said. “Last year, our total amount raised before expenses was $178,000, which was just amazing. Out of that number we sent $145,000 to MCC. So we sent that away for them to do their relief and development work and that type of thing.”

Dube said Saturday is the biggest day of the relief sale and it starts at 6 a.m. with a sausage and pancake breakfast.

“At 9:30 we start off our main auction and we’ll have all kinds of different things,” he said. “We’ll have donations from different businesses around the area (to auction off), and then one of the highlights is all the different quilts for sale. There will probably be well over 100 quilts.”

The quilts and other items are posted on the Northern Michigan Relief Sale Facebook page as well as the website, reliefsale.org.

“So people can look at all the quilts, and we have some unique wood items as well,” Dube said. “One is an adirondack chair in the shape of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and a side table where the support looks like a replica of the Mackinac Bridge and the upper table is a map of the Upper Peninsula.”

Dube said during the day on Saturday, children in attendance will have the option to participate in Kids World, in which they can make school kits to send to other children around the world who can’t afford school supplies.

Dube said the entire event is run by volunteers and they are always looking for more. Usually approximately 200 participate.

“Those are all Northern Michigan people,” he said. “We have churches that support us from as far away as Vassar, Midland, Au Gres, Pigeon, and some in Comins and Fairview as well. There’s also one from from the Upper Peninsula and they make and sell 1,400 pasties for the event for sale. We have those available either frozen to take home or warmed up and able to eat there, and we usually sell out of those because everybody loves them.”

Both days of the event, including the concert, are free to attend. Dube said while not everyone will come to the sale because they’re in need of a quilt or other crafted item, the relief sale is always accepting donations for the causes listed each year.

“We give opportunities for people to donate for Blessing Bids,” he said. “We work with MCC and pick out 10-12 special projects that they have going on and we try to find out what we can do if somewhere needs help.”

Dube said the group also does projects within the U.S. if the need is there.

“It’s really a fun event,” he said. “A lot of people come up and have a good time. The quilts are just quite striking and lovely and there’s some really nice things that happen as a result of that.”

According to reliefsale.org, the first sale was in 1966, and it has since become one of 43 relief sale events held in the U.S. and Canada that helps to raise more than $5 million annually.

The relief sale will be held at the Oscoda County Fairgrounds. For more information or to volunteer, visit reliefsale.org or the Northern Michigan Relief Sale Facebook page, or call Carl Dube at 989-848-5904.

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