Blog: Rolling Up My Sleeves with Tossed & Found

By Barbara Franklin, Sustainer Chair, Member since 1990

Our largest fundraiser, Tossed & Found – an annual rummage sale, was canceled in March because of the Coronavirus pandemic. That left the Junior League of Washington (JLW) with 18,000 square feet of donated items it was a whole lot of rummage!

At the time, a number of nonprofits, including Goodwill, Salvation Army, and A Wider Circle, also closed their doors to comply with public health requirements. 

Tossed & Found Co-Chairs Kelly Hunter and Katrina Washington, and Rising Co-Chairs Madeline Shepherd and Rachel Volkmann, did not want the rummage to end up in a landfill, so they got creative. With the support of the JLW leadership, the committee leaders secured an extension for the donated space from JBG Smith and the Crystal City Business Improvement District, until the end of May, well past the original move-out date. Then, the committee’s leadership reached out to every one of JLW’s community partners.

Non-resident League member, Alex Shaw, gave Kelly Hunter the idea of reaching out to the State Department to aid and assist Foreign Service families evacuated due to the pandemic. Through JLW member connections at the State Department, Kelly worked with the Associate of American Foreign Services Worldwide (AAFWS) and made appointments for over 100 Foreign Service families to supplement their ‘go bags’ (cash, travel documents, valuables, and some clothes) with items from Tossed & Found. They also made connections with other nonprofits, including many that JLW had not previously worked with or supported in the past.

The committee’s leadership drew up a plan to empty the space and called out to JLW members for help. Volunteers heeded the call and showed up to the sale site with masks, hand sanitizer, and their best, JLW we will do this attitude! I was one of the many that answered the call.

My first shift was bagging and labeling winter coats. I had a great sense of accomplishment when a rack was emptied. I also loved seeing fellow JLW volunteers working toward a common goal. Every weekend in May, I volunteered at the site. I bagged jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, boxed up kitchen items, sorted electronics, hauled out trash, and loaded vehicles to deliver items. I was delighted to work with other JLW women and make progress.
I had fun bagging sweaters with C.C. Christakos, boxing Quality items with Caren Forsten, and driving to HQ with Diane Berinstein. It reminded me why I volunteer
because it is great fun working with women who have a shared purpose to serve our community.

Tossed & Found collaborated with these organization to keep the rummage out of a landfill:

  • A Cat’s Life Rescue
  • A Wider Circle
  • Associates of American Foreign Service Workers Worldwide
  • Bridges to Independence
  • Co-Partners of Campesinas
  • DC Books to Prison Project
  • Diane’s House
  • ECHO
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Humane Rescue Alliance
  • Koinonia Foundation
  • Humane Rescue Alliance
  • Leveling the Playing Field
  • MaRiH Center
  • My Friend’s House
  • N Street Village
  • New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
  • Prevention of Blindness Society
  • Salvation Army
  • So Others Might Eat (SOME)
  • Turning the Page
  • Volunteers for America
  • Willow Springs Elementary
  • Women Giving Back

The way JLW women saw the cancellation of Tossed & Found as a challenge and an opportunity was inspiring. Proving once again that volunteers get the job done!