Howard Fire Co. gears up for annual garage sale | News, Sports, Jobs

TAMMY COAKLEY/FOR THE EXPRESS Pictured, volunteers, known as the ‘yard sale team’ who were at the Howard Fire Station on Monday, helped sort and organize the many donations that have been dropped off for the annual Howard Fire Company indoor garage sale. Shown seated are, left to right, Eleanor Young, Max Young, Kathy Lomison, Earl Thompson, Lydia Kotzur-Watters and Linda Hanley. Standing are Janice Simcox, Ivy Woomer, Chris Dolan, Beverly Walker, Diana Goodyear, Relda Williams, Eva Ishler, Lana Sutton and Cathy Nyman.

HOWARD — The first Friday and Saturday in May are always the scheduled citywide garage sale dates for Howard. Few residents bothered to put up their sales last weekend as the weather forecaster called for uninterrupted rain on both days. Some residents are choosing to hold their own sales this weekend, while others have decided to donate their items to the Howard Fire Company garage sale.

After reminiscing and some reminiscing, it was determined that the Howard Fire Company has been holding its annual indoor garage sale for about 25 years now. The new fire station building, known as the JK Yearick Center, was opened in 1995 and the banquet hall provides ample space for hosting such an event. The very first garage sale was the brainchild of Kenny Neff, who was then a volunteer firefighter and first responder with the organization. Neff suggested the yard sale as a way to raise money without the fire company having a lot of expense to do so. Locals responded with their donations and the fire company garage sale has been an annual event ever since.

Earl Thompson, now 89, helped out with the very first garage sale and has been responsible and involved in every single one since.

Thompson is retired from Cerro Metal and used his metalworking skills to help build the heavy clothes racks that are used every year at the garage sale to hang clothes. He looks forward to holding the garage sale each spring and spending the week with his reliable volunteers who help out with the event.

Volunteers show up each year to help sort and organize donated items that are accepted Monday through Wednesday, and Thompson fondly refers to these helpers as his “garage sale team.” Most are retired and all are very reliable in coming to help.

“Many of my garage sale assistants come every day during garage sale week and most stay all day,” Thompson said. “We couldn’t have had the garage sale without all the help, and I really appreciate every single one of them that comes every year.”

These helpers that have been coming for years have now become a science when it comes to arranging donations. Books and puzzles on the back left tables, crockery and glassware on the front right tables. The shoes along the back wall and the furniture goes into the smaller meeting room. Several tables hold Christmas decorations while the children’s toys are in the back on the floor for the little ones to pick up and (hopefully) take home.

Chris Dolan is a brand new volunteer for this year’s garage sale. She arrived at 8 am with her items to give away.

“When I saw all the donation boxes and bags sitting here, I decided I had to stay and help,” she says.

“And we are happy to have it”, Thompson was quick to say.

According to Thompson, the biggest amount of money raised was during the 2021 sale, earning the fire company nearly $5,000.

“Some years this (banquet) hall and the back room are full and overflowing and I don’t know where we’re going to put everything, but it always works and is organized well.” said Thompson, of the donations coming in.

Thompson slowly delegates her duties to one of her daughters, Lana Sutton, who helps with the kitchen menu and cooking during garage sale days. Sutton grew up in Howard, then moved in the late 1990s to Port Matilda where she and her husband were involved with the Port Matilda Fire Company. The Suttons returned to Howard about two years ago and now support the Howard Fire Company.

“This year’s menu will include breakfast sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, cheese nachos, fries, soup, coffee, water and choice of soda,” Suton said.

This year’s Howard Fire Company garage sale is dedicated to the memory of its founder, Kenny Neff, who died last fall of brain cancer on September 13, 2021.

The garage sale takes place on a “pay what you think it’s worth” base. Thursday and Friday sales hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. After the sale ends on Saturday, all items are packed and bagged for the American rescue truck(s) to arrive on Monday and transport the remains.

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