May 14, 2013
Every inch of the Daum family’s lawn and driveway in Larchmont, N.Y., was stacked with a treasure-trove of clothes, electronics, furniture and books this past Sunday. At first glance, the tag sale may seem like any other large sale of its kind – well-stocked and well organized – but the numbers tell a different story, one of commitment and community.
The family has held the tag sale every year since 2000, and its proceeds, which were nearing $145,000 as of Sunday, have all gone to Save the Children. The family tradition stems from a bat mitzvah donation.
“We first became involved with Save the Children when my eldest daughter Carly chose to donate her bat mitzvah gifts to Save the Children’s education programming in rural Appalachia,” said Michelle Daum. “Afterward, Carly and my husband Fred traveled to Appalachia to visit the programs. They were both so moved by that trip and the work of Save the Children, that my husband suggested we find a way to keep giving. And the tag sale was born.”
Their first tag sale was held the next year, raising $3,000. And over the years, with the introduction of fundraising tools like an online donation page and silent auctions on more expensive items, the proceeds and involvement have gone up steadily.
This year, donations from around 800 families helped keep the sale stocked, and the combination of sales and donations were approaching $20,000 on Sunday, with all proceeds going to Save the Children’s emergency relief programming in the U.S.
Michelle Daum and her husband Fred, center, with daughters Carly, left, and Justine. Their charitable tag sale has become a community “institution” in Larchmont, N.Y., according to attendees.Photo by Byron Kittle.On Sunday, Michelle Daum took some time away from being manager of the day’s events, to talk about what makes her family’s tag sale such a resounding success year after year. The recipe for tag sale success, she indicated, is one of good sale items, community support and a good cause.
“It’s completely a community effort … you see this outpouring of both helpers and buyers,” Daum said. “Everyone loves looking around, and most everyone finds something they want. Donors like to know that their donated items will be cherished by others.”
The tag sale has a simple formula – the Larchmont community bands together to accumulate enough merchandise to draw a crowd, and the shoppers get to save money on an eclectic assortment of items and support Save the Child at the same time. That doesn’t mean the job is easy by any stretch.
“It’s a very difficult juggling act,” Daum said, to “move the merchandise” at bargain prices but also conduct an effective fundraising effort.
The tag sale also seems resilient to setbacks and delays, with this year’s rain date not putting a dent in attendance.
“This is the first year we had a rain date, and yet the turnout has been tremendous,” Daum said. “We had people here helping this morning at 6 o’clock, which I’m so grateful for. The buyers have clearly come back.”
Daum said some people come from as far away as Hudson, N.Y. (an almost 3 hour drive), to participate in the sale. One shopper, a woman named Chris, said she’s been coming to the sale since its inception because of Save the Children’s mission.
“I’m in education, and have been for 42 years,” she said. “And children are probably the most important resource we have in the world, so that’s why I’m here.”
That sentiment was echoed by a number of other attendees. Betty Comerford is a Larchmont native who has been helping the Daums and Save the Children for well over a decade.
Around 1400 families were asked to donate to the Daum family’s annual tag sale in Larchmont, N.Y. This year’s proceeds will go to Save the Children’s emergency relief programming in the U.S. Photo by Byron Kittle.“It’s such a great sale and such a great cause – it really rallies the community,” she said. “It’s like an institution in Larchmont now – ‘the Daum’s Save the Children Sale’ – so people keep coming back year after year because they know it’s going to a good cause.”
Another regular is Jennifer Hayward from White Plains, N.Y.
“I am thrilled to come here each year because, A, I get great things; and, B, [Save the Children] really helps,” she said. “They’re helping kids all over – I got a great price and I gave a few bucks extra because it’s going to a great cause.”
One of the sale’s first-time volunteers this year was Gina Cantelmo, who also works for Save the Children.
“It’s a well-oiled machine – the Daum family has this down to a science, and we’re thankful that they have chosen us to be the beneficiaries of this event every year,” Cantelmo said. “I’m so thankful that everyone is willing to give up part of their Mother’s Day to support this worthwhile cause.”
And the community plays a huge part in the sale’s success. According to Michelle Daum, around 18 volunteers arrived before dawn on Sunday to help her organize the merchandise and prepare for the day’s activities.
“All the goods you saw were in boxes and bags on our driveway until 6 a.m. Sunday morning,” she said. “It was a huge community effort to get all that out and displayed.”