Susan Thompson-Gaines wants to spread kindness. This weekend, she’s doing it through a big garage sale at her Arlington home.
Susan Thompson-Gaines wants to spread kindness. This weekend, she does it through a large garage sale at her home.
She says it’s hard to miss the house she shares with her husband, David – it’s the yellow house with purple borders on the corner of South Second and South Fillmore streets in Arlington, Virginia. The large yard and wraparound porch are convenient for holding many sold treasures, such as clothes, toys, baby items, bicycles, electronics, books, jewelry, artwork, a small portable washing machine and much more.
But what makes this garage sale different is that the profits are all spent on acts of kindness.
In 2015, Thompson-Gaines, who works as a sign language interpreter, wanted to find a project that would interest and inspire him. The 56-year-old decided to actively seek cuteness, and she found that “you see her everywhere.”
Kindness can be found in the simple things.
“Hold the door open for someone, but also small things like if someone drops their grocery bag, three people rush to pick it up. As soon as I started looking I saw it everywhere and realized that if I missed it that much, probably a lot of other people too.
So she started a blog called Kindness Activist. Thompson-Gaines doesn’t accept the idea that talking about doing something nice is bragging.
“If you don’t share it and talk about it, then this little wave of kindness won’t spread to other people,” she said. For example, if a person hears about a buyer who helped another who was $ 5 short of the grocery store checkout, then hearing that might prompt that person to help in a similar situation.
The Kindness Garage Sale, now in its third year, will take place Friday and Saturday. And here’s how it works: Buyers “pay what they want”.
Thompson-Gaines said getting the community to pool resources means raising more money. All proceeds are used for random acts of kindness. She estimates that at least 60 families – including neighbors in South Arlington, members of the local Buy Nothing group and other Facebook groups, and even people who drive by – contributed to this year’s sale, in donating items and helping with the elaborate facility.
The proceeds were used to buy toys; paying people’s dental bills, prescriptions, groceries; and even help pay the rent.
“He built a small, free yellow pantry that neighbors donate food to, and people with food shortages come to eat there,” Thomas-Gaines said, adding that she counted for every penny and that she talks about it in his blog.
She wants people who have shopped to know where their contribution has gone. “It’s also part of sharing stories of kindness,” she said. “If you read the blog and see where the money has gone, you might be inspired to do something like this, too.”
She’s careful how she uses the money – nothing political or too controversial. “Just things that everyone who participated could support. “
As for that free little yellow pantry, built by her husband outside their house, she constantly replenishes it.
“The neighbors give so much food. I have a kitchen in the basement full of donated food. And if they need rice, beans, cheese and eggs, I go downstairs to pack groceries and take them out. I fill the pantry two or three times a day. He gets used to it a lot, ”said Thomas-Gaines.
Sounds a bit like a full-time job in itself, right?
“It’s a good thing that I’m working from home,” she said.