For several years, the Spring 2010 Mega Yard Sale, hosted by the Clayton County Humane Society, has been its most important fund-raiser. The activities of the no-kill animal shelter are largely supported by money the agency gets from fund-raisers it holds in the spring and fall.
Patrons demonstrate their support through the purchase of furniture, electronics, baby toys, bicycles, books and other lightly used equipment.
This year, however, donations of items for the spring sale scheduled for Saturday, May 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. are lagging.
"Our donations are down this year," said Maria Dorough, community outreach coordinator for the Clayton County Humane Society.
"Normally around this time of year, we have two [storage] units full with items. We just haven't had that this year. We usually make several thousand at our yard sales. Right now, we might have $1,000 [worth of items], if we're lucky," Dorough said.
"In the past, we've had a lot of people donating electronics ... We haven't seen that this year," she continued. "Things like tools, lawn furniture and equipment, those things go really fast."
The Humane Society is presently scouring the community for furniture, tools, electronics, and other high-ticket items to display for sale in front of the Jonesboro High School Vocational Building, at 7728 Mount Zion Blvd., in Jonesboro.
"These two yard sales are our biggest fund-raisers annually, and we really depend on [them] to pay for all the medical needs and nutrition of the animals we take in," said Michele Bryant-Hall, president of the Clayton County Humane Society's board of directors.
"We need for the community to support us, as they have in the past, and to donate gently used items that we can resell," she said. "We need them to possibly visit us on sale day and find some other little treasure. By buying it, it will help us with the cause."
Bryant-Hall reminded patrons that the society is the county's only no-kill animal shelter. The animals taken in by the shelter are kept until a suitable home can be found. She said thousands of dollars are spent every year feeding, vaccinating, and nursing back to health cats and dogs that have been abused or neglected. Since the economic downturn, she said, more abandoned animals have been finding their way to the shelter.
"I don't think there are less people caring about these animals than in the past, but it seems like financial situations are more desperate than ever," she said. "It's getting more common for people to move away, or leave their home and just leave their animals behind. We have a good deal of people turning their animals in, and telling us they can't afford to feed them anymore or take care of their veterinary bills.
This year's Spring Mega Yard Sale will be dedicated to Miles "Micky" Taylor, a long-time volunteer who died on Jan. 7, at the age of 77. Since the late 1990s, Taylor and his wife, son, daughter, and daughter-in-law have all been dedicated volunteers at the shelter, said Bryant-Hall.
"They are big animal lovers, the whole family," she said. "Losing Mr. Taylor wasn't like losing somebody you know. It was like losing a member of your family. This will be the first time we have had this without him. That's why there is a memorial to him."
Taylor's daughter, Cathy Lovett, said that since the 1970s, Taylor had also been an active volunteer with Southern Regional Medical Center, Rainbow House, and the Girl Scouts, but the Clayton County Humane Society was the closest to his heart. By his own request, Taylor was buried wearing a Humane Society T-shirt under his suit, his daughter said.
"He loved that yard sale," Lovett said. "He would donate tons and come back with three tons, because he always found some treasures. Anybody who volunteers [at the animal center] knows that every dime counts there. I think that he would think it is wonderful that, maybe because of the things he did in his life, it would bring more attention to the Humane Society."
People donating to the Clayton County Humane Society Spring Mega Yard Sale can receive a tax-credit receipt upon request. Those with items, should call Maria Dorough at (404) 630-8515, or Gwen Lyle at (404) 432-9986 to arrange a pick-up or drop-off. For more information, visit www.claytoncountyhumane.org.