It’s here! The event we’ve been waiting for all year long has finally arrived (no, not the cicadas, but yes, another kind of bug) — the MV Big Flea! Though work has been going on behind the scenes for several months now, the Big Flea main event takes place this Saturday, May 4, from 7 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.
Since late last year, a die-hard and dedicated group of parents from Mount Vernon Community School’s PTA has curated quite a collection of merchandise to sell for the school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, which supports education enrichment activities for students and helps teachers secure much-needed supplies.
“One of the best things about the Big Flea is the fact that it has raised over $100,000 for the MVCS PTA and that it really does in the process help create a great sense of community amongst the parent/volunteers. We owe a great deal of thanks to the many volunteers and to the original founder of the Big Flea, Joe Lamountain,” says Big Flea parent/volunteer Art Witebsky.
The Big Flea relies upon community donations — household items, furniture, sporting equipment, toys, bric-a-brac galore — collected during shop ‘n drops starting at the end of last year. The ingenious part: you can actually purchase the items right away (thus the “shop” in shop ‘n drop), so a large portion of the profits is raised before the actual Big Flea event. It’s hard to believe when they opened the monthly shop ‘n drops in November 2012, they started with nothing.
Monthly shop ‘n drops turned into weekly shop ‘n drops, the empty store, empty no more. Clutter phobes like me rejoiced at the opportunity to get rid of stuff around the house and support a good cause at the same time.
Merchandise didn’t stay long — the good stuff was purchased right away, providing instant revenue and space for even more items.
Some things waited for just the right motivated DIYer to repurpose and renew.
Big Flea parent/volunteer Andrew Beaujon’s favorite flea item was “the one that got away — the item I didn’t buy and am still fascinated by,” a miniature Brazilian oven that someone donated last year. He says he doesn’t know what anyone would do with one of these things but it seems so perfect. “I’m still kind of kicking myself.”
All of this work wasn’t possible without volunteers — those who passed out fliers, helped keep the shop ‘n drops organized, drove around town on their days off work to pick up donations, and even some late night dumpster divers during Alexandria’s spring clean-up. (You didn’t have to twist my arm to do that, it’s more fun than it is work!)
Art Witebsky shared a funny story that happened after they sold a dresser found in the trash during Alexandria’s spring clean up: “We had just sold a dresser for $40 and were taking it out of the back door when the former owner came to make a donation at the shop. He said ‘oh my goodness I just put that out on the curb as trash.’ Just shows how amazing it is that the Big Flea can literally turn one person’s trash into money that goes towards the kids at MVCS.”
Not only is the Big Flea a huge fundraiser, it’s also a big community builder. Local businesses like M&T Bank have donated cash and Jack Taylor Toyota donated the “Big Flea Car,” which will be raffled to a lucky winner. You can purchase raffle tickets during this week’s First Thursday on the Avenue outside Del Ray Pizzeria.
From the community and local business donations to the dedicated volunteers (of all ages), the MV Big Flea is just another example of why Del Ray is such a wonderful place to live.
What will you find at the Big Flea? Come down to the Mount Vernon Recreation Center on Saturday, May 4, from 7 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and find out! The Recreation Center is located at 2701 Commonwealth Ave. in Del Ray next to Mount Vernon Community School. We can’t wait to find out what you take home!