Where There’s a Need, There’s a Free Yard Sale

Spring is here and the Green Valley Free Community Yard Sale is back.
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Kristen Johnson (in the pink mask) at a free yard sale event. Courtesy photo

Last August, Lauren Kneussle started an initiative called the Drew Distribution—a free, biweekly “yard sale” during which families near Arlington’s Charles Drew Community Center could peruse donated offerings (clothing, toys, household supplies) and take whatever they needed. She recognized that some of her neighbors were cleaning out their closets while others were struggling through financial hardship. Soon she was joined by fellow organizer Alex Russell.

Less than 2 miles away and a month later, Kristen Johnson hosted the very first Fairlington Women’s and Kids’ Free Clothing Swap, after hearing a few neighborhood moms expressing concerns about where to find seasonal attire during the pandemic. The swap was a success, and concluded with three carloads of unclaimed items—which Johnson and her friend Heather Lilly promptly drove over to contribute to a Drew Distribution that was underway.

What they saw was sobering. “I was blown away by how incredible it was and how much need there is in our community,” Johnson recalls. “I was shocked to see that all of the clothing, diapers, toiletries and household items were all scooped up within a matter of minutes. I got sucked in.”

Johnson and Lilly offered to lead the next Drew Distribution. Before long, the effort was renamed the Green Valley FREE Community Yard Sale and grew exponentially. As word got around, donations continued to pour in, taking over Johnson’s Fairlington home—so much so that neighbors chipped in to fund a storage shed next to her house. By the end of last fall, the yard sale was serving 200 to 300 families every other week.

The organizers have been nimble in responding to community needs. When one mother cried after arriving late to an event, only to find all of the diapers gone, Johnson posted a notice on Facebook. Within two days, she’d raised almost $1,000 for diapers.

Cold temperatures and an uptick in Covid cases put the yard sales on pause over the winter, but they started back up in April and are now offered monthly. For alerts about upcoming yard sales, check the Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through Covid-19 Facebook page and local Buy Nothing Facebook groups.

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Categories: Community