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Bargain-hunters descend on Harvest Thrift Sale
Junior League's annual fundraiser benefits local nonprofit groups
Andrea Aguilar gathers up blankets for purchase Saturday at the Junior League Harvest Thrift Sale at the Georgia Mountains Center. - photo by Tom Reed

Thrift-sale shoppers can be like cheetahs.

They have to be sly, swift and capable of scoping out their bargain before someone else gets to it first.

These fierce shoppers were on the ultimate hunt for the best deals in Gainesville on Saturday at the Junior League Harvest Thrift Sale at the Georgia Mountains Center.

"It is usually a very popular thing, and there are people who line up an hour early," said Leslie Miller, the advanced donations chair with the Junior League of Gainesville-Hall County. "There is usually a big crowd that comes flying down the ramp, looking for the good finds."

After shoppers paid the $1 entrance fee, Miller watched them flock to the furniture, baby clothes and items for kids. Other items included electronics, Christmas decorations and clothes, which were a new addition this year.

Funds raised from the sale go back into the community to support local nonprofit agencies through the Junior League.

"With our fundraisers, what we do is collect all of the money, and then it is decided by the fiance committee how it will be distributed," Miller said. "There are several agencies that we support, and so we try to give to different ones and help support everyone."

In recent years, the sale has raised as much as $20,000. A few of the organizations supported by Junior League include Challenged Child and Friends, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Edmondson-Telford Center for Children.

The Junior League Charity Ball committee were selling biscuits and concessions at the thrift sale. The Charity Ball is the League's big event in December. Other projects that the Junior League takes part in are Kids in the Kitchen and Feeding our Future.

For Kids in the Kitchen, league members get out in the community once a month and provide educational programming, mostly on nutrition and physical fitness.

Feeding our Future, a partnership between the League and the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, is committed to easing child hunger in Gainesville-Hall County. Since 50 families in the community have been identified as chronically hungry, Feeding our Future is dedicated to supplying 50 pounds of food to those in need once a month.

Miller said that she enjoys watching shoppers on the hunt at the annual thrift sale.

"All the little kids come in and they see all these fun toys and it makes me so happy to see them find fun things while being here with their parents," she said. "This is kind of a family event - there are a lot of husbands and wives coming with their kids and getting things for their home, and it makes me very happy to see the families getting things to make their home even better."

Habersham resident Becky McElrath was digging through some baby clothes at the thrift sale, trying to find something perfect for her 3-month-old niece, Ava.
McElrath also was looking for some items for her 5-year-old son, Joshua, and her 23-year-old son, Jacob.

She said that the thrift sale is a family event that she attends every year.

"You never know what you are going to find, and the prices are really good," McElrath said. "Even though it is a lot of pushing and shoving when you get here, it is well worth it."