Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thank You, Deseret News!

A big Thank You to Wendy Leonard and Michelle Tessier of the Deseret News for the story you did on our soggy, but warm-and-fuzzy, free swap yesterday. (Truth be told, it brought me to tears.)

Here's the link: The Spirit of Helping: 'Take Whatever You Need'

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Promoting the Fall Free SWAP at the Provo Farmers Market

{Big-time Cougar fan Kerry F. and I spread the Free SWAP word before she headed to the stadium.}

Yes, our canopy looks a little bit sad in this display. But don't let that fool you; it houses all sorts of goodness. (It turns out our canopy was too large for our allotted space, so, uh, we had to modify it a smidge.)


We had chairs but we hardly sat. We were actively on a mission to invite as many community members as possible to the Free SWAP on Saturday. It was truly a delight to connect with folks who love the idea.

Couple of observations.

One. Next time we will just use photos and signs in our display. I had brought a few items of clothing to hang on the line to, ahem, "add" to the display (okay, okay, I'm not a merchandiser). Turns out it just confused people. "Everything is Free" is a great sign to grab attention. But when some people quickly glance and see a meager selection of 6 items of girls' clothing, they get a quizzical look and move on. Next time, just signs and photos. Got it.

Two. "Everything is FREE" gets attention. But it also gets skepticism. Understandably so. I've had more than one lesson teaching my children the adage, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." There's always a catch, kids. Be wary. Keep your guard up. Uh, that is except this time; this time there really *is* no catch. Really. We had to try to convince a couple of folks that there was no gimmick, no bait-and-switch, no corporate advertising or sign-ups for spam. 

On a couple of occasions folks asked us, "So what's in it for you? How do you get paid for your time?" Our answer: well, we get paid in sunshine and rainbows and unicorns.

(Added bonus: that kind of payment is completely non-taxable. It's all under-the-table goodness that we get to take straight to the bank. Cha-ching.)

Overall, we felt the Provo Farmers Market was a great place to promote Saturday's SWAP. Beautiful day. Lots of people out enjoying all that the market had to offer. And a fantastic place to meet others who were eager to join with us in passing the word along. We loved hearing, as we handed out our new two-sided business cards, "Can I have a few more to pass around to friends?" You betcha.

See you Saturday!

{Next round of printing will see a little bit larger print, but overall, we are loving the cards.}

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall Free SWAP Coming Up! Spread the News and/or Come Volunteer

{flyer posted up at my youngest's school}

The next SWAP is coming up soon. Help us spread the word. Below are links to downloadable color/photo flyers like the one in the photo above. Print them out and post them up. Or pass them around electronically--email, Facebook, Twitter, you know the drill.

c o m m u n i t y   f r e e   s : w . a . p .

for everyone and anyone
Saturday, September 27, 2014
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Orem City Center Park—Rotary Pavilion
North side of Center St. midway between State St. & 400 E.

It’s like a yard sale where everything is free.  Clear out clutter, pass along items you no longer need.   Item donations are welcome—from furniture to home d├ęcor to sporting equipment, with special consideration for seasonal items and cold weather gear.  Please limit donations to items that can be carried by one or two people; nothing that needs special moving equipment—i.e. dollies for refrigerators, etc.—unless you can assume responsibility for transport to its new home.  Simply bring items to the community free s:w.a.p. and then stay and browse the rest of the selection for anything that you could use. 

Note: NO DONATION REQUIRED; feel free to take what you can use.

There will also be a collection bin for any food bank items guests wish to bring which will later be delivered to the community Food Bank in Provo. 

Volunteers needed! 
Get together a group of friends and join us!  
Email desertgreengoddess(at)gmail(dot)com

Any other questions can be emailed to above address.

Facebook group: 
Community FREE S:W.A.P. (Sharing: We All Prosper) - Utah County

s h a r i n g  :  w e . a l l . p r o s p e r .

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Free SWAP Report


We really couldn't have asked for a better day for the Free S:W.A.P. Clear skies, warm day with a bit of a breeze. Veteran volunteers alongside new volunteers (welcome Brianna, Paula, and friends!) worked hard to get ready for the doors to open.

Welcome, community. Let's share!

{See that TV? Before the end we had received--and, phew, passed on--6 TVs! SIX, people!
photo courtesy of Kerry F.}

{Celebrity look-alikes among our devoted volunteers: 
Santa Claus/Roy S.
photo courtesy of Kerry F.}

{More celebrity look-alikes (it's a little hard to tell in the photo, but multiple sources agree!): Wonder Woman/Lisa H. and Gwen Stefani/Julie S accompanied by one of our younger volunteers, C
photo courtesy of Julie S.}

We were happy to hear reports from guests.  "At the last SWAP I got a rocking chair and I reupholstered it and it looks great."  Or "My youngest was finishing high school when we learned we were expecting again, so we have needed to get all the baby stuff again." Or "I volunteer with an organization that builds homes for needy families living on the Navajo reservation; I found some light switches and door knobs that I can use for that." 

{more volunteers: I see Connie C., Stacey H., Emily W., and Christina C. have joined the party}

It was at the last free swap in my neighborhood (2011), before I expanded the scale, that I first invited city officials to come check out what I was trying to accomplish with this idea. City council member Margaret Black accepted my invitation and stopped by that day 3 years ago. And here she is, again. Thank you, Councilmember Black, for your support. 

The last swap, on a chilly, chilly day in the fall of last year, saw around 300 guests.  Fall of 2012 had just under 600 guests. We were hoping that with more marketing avenues this year (radio and TV), we could get more than 600 people. Maybe--I was (overly-?) optimistic--we could get 800 people to come to this swap. Had my fingers crossed. We passed 600 just before 11:00. Either way, with one hour, officially, to go, we were set to break our previous record.

It was during this lull that we got a visit from an old college buddy of mine. I'm thinking there might be a fair number of you who know this guy! Brett Roberts of Kid Snippets/Kid History fame, folks. (He and his cast/crew were invited by Lucas Films to film some Kid Snippet episodes on the Star Wars cantina set! How cool is that?! He has even filmed episodes with none other than Josh Groban. Smidge jealous.) Here we are with his beautiful children and some delighted fans.

{that "MEN" sign placement just makes me laugh}

As interesting as attendance numbers are to me, it's the people behind those numbers that make it worth it. It's the hard-working volunteers who come back year after year.  It's the stories of the people that are the heart of it all. Friends and strangers alike giving graciously and receiving graciously.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: each Free S:W.A.P. benefits hundreds in our community. If every city across the country organized just one Free S:W.A.P. each year, the benefits would increase exponentially, turning those hundreds into millions.

I extend an open invitation to team up with me on this. Organize a Free S:W.A.P. (Sharing: We All Prosper) in your community. Let's work together. Share ideas. Share inspiration. Share the stories that give meaning to this journey of ours.

Here's volunteer Emily with our final count:

Additional thank yous, if I forgot someone, please, please tell me! Kerry F. (SWAP co-organizer) and her husband Jason F. (Kerry, I almost didn't include you here; it feels like we've been such a team that to thank you would be like thanking myself! But, truly, having a like-minded cohort on this project has made it so much more fun.), Tiffany D., Jill B., Amy G., Emma, Hannah, Natalie, Madison, Kelly B., Abby R., Jeff B., Emily from Orem Community Church, Kimberly from Feed the World, Kami C. (for watching my girls!!), David B. (for making the video) my son, and, of course, my husband, the surprise-volunteer-snacks-provider, for putting up with my crazy twice a year. Well, my "Free SWAP" crazy, that is. He puts up with my regular crazy all year long. ;)