1 of 2
Tiffany and Michelle Lucas relax in their home along with Cassidy Nelson, who was able to help the Lucas family through Hoover’s Garage Giveaway. Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha.
2 of 2
Tiffany Lucas’ life does not look like that of a typical 19-year-old girl.
Diagnosed with six diseases and living with only one kidney, frequent hospital visits and bouts of sickness are day-to-day normalcy. Furthermore, Tiffany’s mother, Michelle, has been out of work for 19 years and her husband Donnie is disabled, making it difficult for the family to make ends meet.
Several years ago, one of Michelle’s friends told her about a garage sale-style donation event.
She describes what followed as a gift from heaven.
“We were able to receive a wheelchair that was customized just for Tiffany,” said Michelle. “They also gave an Afghan prayer shawl that she lays over her lap. It meant so much to me that someone would help my family in this way.”
The unique charitable event was born five years ago when Cassidy Nelson read the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. She was inspired by his message of extravagant giving and felt a pull to replicate it in her community through a free garage sale-style event. She and her husband, Ben, started the event in their Alabaster home, and six people attended. The next year more than 1,000 people showed up.
Cassidy immediately knew there was a far greater need that anticipated.
“We realized that we couldn’t have it at our house anymore,” said Cassidy. “We are really thankful for the Hoover Met and Discovery United Methodist Church across the street for letting us use their trailer.”
The annual event is scheduled this year for Dec. 6 at the Hoover Met. It allows those who have a financial need to browse and take home various donations of clothing and furniture. A team of young adults prepares all year, including several big donation days. The number of volunteers quickly multiplies to 100 on the day of the event to accommodate a crowd around 5,000.
The Garage Giveaway accepts donations of everything except food, underwear, swimsuits, opened bath products and weapons. Items that are always needed include all sizes of clothes and shoes, furniture, appliances, home goods, toys, books, videos and kitchenware. The items are sorted and given away for free to attendees.
“It really makes us realize how much excess we have in our life,” said Cassidy’s mother, Peggy Harrison, who is also involved with the sale. “It’s great to watch families help other families.”
Harrison said the event has been the catalyst for a chain reaction of giving, and she hopes it will inspire people to have similar garage sales in their own neighborhoods. The Discovery United Methodist preschool adopted the Garage Giveaway as a class project, and it has helped the children see the importance of helping others in need.
“They have been saving toys to donate,” said Harrison. “It’s great for them to have this mindset at such a young age.”
Michelle said the event helped some of her friends to have a Christmas. She now volunteers at the giveaway each year. Last year, in the 15-degree weather, Michelle was there to assist with the four-hour setup.
“I want to do what I can when I can,” she said.
Michelle tears up as she tells the story of seeing Cassidy and her husband driving up to her home one year.
“We saw a truck coming up over the hill and realized they were coming with a new stove for us,” said Michelle. “I couldn’t believe it. God has blessed us.”
For more, visit thegaragegiveway.com.