AMERICAN FORK Surrounded by used "Rocky II" videos, lime-green refrigerators, mock suede couches galore, air hockey and foosball tables that the kids long ago grew out of, all sorts of skis and bicycles painted in 1980s neon and so many baby clothes you just knew you were close to BYU, Holly Hasler and Meghan Stubbs looked around at all the stuff people didn't want anymore and could think of only one thing to say.
One person's discard was another person's redemption.
The scene was the Sam Harrison benefit yard sale held Friday and Saturday in the city park in the center of town. Sam is a BYU student who broke his neck snowboarding in February and is now a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, facing months of rehab and mounting medical bills.
Holly and Meghan are his neighbors. Holly and her husband, Blair, rent their basement to Sam and his wife, Ashley, and their infant son, Benjamin, who was born a month after his dad broke his neck. Meghan and her husband, Brett, live just around the corner.
After the Haslers set up a Web site to solicit donations for Sam immediately following the accident donateforsam.org Meghan and Holly started brainstorming about other ways to raise funds.
Meghan remembered a benefit yard sale she participated in for a breast cancer victim when she lived in Houston.
The two women decided to see what would happen if they got organized and started soliciting donations.
Two semi trucks, three snowmobile trailers, four storage units and five garages later, they had their answer.
"What they organized, and what they collected, was absolutely remarkable," observed Devin Knighton, a neighbor recruited to the cause as media spokesman. "These women should run the world."
Solicitations via the Internet, word-of-mouth, hundreds of fliers hung on telephone poles all over town and stories in the media resulted in not only an avalanche of donations, but also dozens of people who in addition to donating their old coffee tables and inkjet printers, donated themselves as volunteers.
After sorting clothes and furniture every night for six weeks, Holly and Meghan hit the saturation point. They literally had enough there was no more room for donations.
This past Friday morning they hauled it all out and dumped it on the city park lawn for two days of business. After that, two miracles happened in short order. One, they had so many people show up and make purchases that they raised over $20,000 to give to Sam. Two, despite intermittent gray clouds and a storm front that passed through, it didn't rain either day during their hours of operations.
Holly and Meghan were as thrilled by the response as they were humbled.
"A lot of people, when they paid for their stuff, rounded up," said Meghan."Most people who helped had never even seen Sam before," said Holly. "It's been an overwhelming experience to do this. Even if we hadn't raised anything, just seeing the service and how much people care would have been worth it."
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.