Turning clutter into cash for our cause

By Dean Dettloff, Animator for Central Ontario

This is the first in a Star supporters occasional series of articles celebrating the commitment and creativity of select individuals and organizations who raise funds for Development and Peace — Caritas Canada in inspiring ways.
Dorothy Carroll collects, refurbishes and sells discarded furniture, furnishings and decor items to raise funds for Development and Peace.

“I saw so many things set out by the side of the road for free, and I thought it would be awful if that went to the dump,” said Dorothy Carroll, a member of Development and Peace since around 1987. The self-described “long-time fixer-upper” from the diocese of Peterborough, Ont., had an idea: why not pick up these items, restore them and sell them at a yard sale?

“If we’re thinking of climate change and keeping our landfills emptier, we should be recycling and reusing; and I’ve always liked fixing up old things and making them look beautiful,” Carroll said. She resolved to put her yard sale idea into action and to donate the proceeds to Development and Peace.

Carroll recalled being moved by seeing poverty up close while travelling to Peru and India with her sister. Upon returning to Canada, she read about Development and Peace in a bulletin. “It seemed logical to help the poorest of the poor. I knew I had to get doing something.”

That “something” has taken the shape of four yard sales this year, from which Carroll reckons she has raised well over $2,000 for Development and Peace!

By now, Carroll has acquired something of a reputation in her community. “People got to think of me as ‘The Chair Lady’,” she chuckled.

Over the summer, a man heard from a mutual friend that Carroll was rescuing worn-out chairs. He was on his way to the dump with six matching French provincial chairs. “They were mostly dirty and needed upholstering,” Carroll recounted. She was horrified to learn that the man’s wife was suggesting he chop up and burn the chairs. “I said, ‘Oh, for God’s sake, no!’”

Learning that Carroll had taken the condemned chairs, the woman came to the yard sale to see what had become of them. Carroll had to say, “I’m sorry, they were sold right off the bat!” Carroll added, “I got $25 for each chair.”

By simply repurposing what some consider waste, Carroll is putting both people and the planet first, keeping goods in circulation and generating funds for our partners around the world. And she plans to continue.

“I’ve already got a lot piled up for next year,” she reported. “I keep finding treasures, and I bring them home.”

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