It started as a garage sale.
It was 1992, and Joanne Marcil and some close friends and family had some things to sell. So they set them out in Marcil's garage in the Brookwood Subdivision of Rochester Hills.
Marcil's sale brought in $150, and she used the money to buy three high chairs for the Baldwin Center, a Pontiac crisis center that feeds, clothes and educates the needy.
At the time, Marcil worked one day a week at the center, and she thought getting rid of some of her own things in a garage sale was a great way to help give back to those in need.
And then came the snowball.
That's the only way Marcil can describe the event that has grown into a subdivision flea market that supports five local charities and received national recognition last year.
"It started small, then we gradually grew — then it's snowballed, really," said Marcil. "Last year, we raised $14,000."
Making a difference
This weekend, the Brookwood Make a Difference Day Flea Market will celebrate 20 years of giving back to the community.
It coincides with the national Make a Difference Day, which falls on Saturday this year.
In the past two decades, the Brookwood Flea Market, which operates like a giant neighborhood garage sale, has given almost $100,000 to local charities. Last year, the group was one of 10 volunteer efforts in the country to be recognized by the Make a Difference Day organization, supported by USA Weekend.
The Brookwood project received a $10,000 award, which Marcil and her group , their original charity.
"Make a Difference Day is a very organized one day of volunteering, though that doesn't mean you aren't volunteering every day, 365 days a year," Marcil said.
In addition to the Baldwin Center, the flea market supports the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; in downtown Rochester; and The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester.
“Our hard-working, dedicated volunteers inspire us with their energy and enthusiasm," said Trish Kangas, co-chair of the project.
"They spend countless hours sorting, organizing, pricing and making the flea market donations look their best. Our customers can count on finding great bargains, knowing the money they spend will benefit a worthy cause. Plus, we help the environment by giving the items donated a second life instead of sending them to a landfill."
About the flea market
Here's what you need to know before you go:
- What: The 20th annual Brookwood Subdivision Make a Difference Day Flea Market.
- When: Be an early bird at the four-hour "fun sale" from 4-8 p.m. Friday; admission costs $4. The sale continues from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; admission is free.
- Where: The Brookwood Clubhouse at 998 Brookwood Lane, located at the entrance to the subdivision off Tienken Road.
- What's for sale: New and gently used household items, clothing, jewelry, baby items, purses, books, hardware and tools, golf equipment, sporting goods, small furniture, toys, games and many other items.
- How to pay: By cash or check. You can make checks payable directly to the charity of your choice.
- Why go: Like any giant garage sale or flea market, you never know what you might find. And with this particular sale, you can know that your purchase is helping a local charity.
- How to help: Volunteers are needed this week — particularly teens and young adults interested in doing community service work. Help is needed between 5-8 p.m. today and also during tear-down between 4-8 p.m. Saturday. Those interested in helping can contact Trish Kangas at 248-652-0258.
- Looking for sponsors: If you make a donation in any amount to any of the five charities, you can be considered a flea market sponsor.
For more about the flea market, see the event's website.