The Group: Eugene Field Elementary PTO, Hannibal, Mo.

The Setting: Parents and teachers draft a mission for their new PTO and explore ideas about how to connect with families. “We decided that our goal was to raise money for playground equipment because a good portion of what our school had was not usable,” says PTO President Cathy Crim.

The Idea: “We all agreed that a yard sale on the front lawn of the school was the answer,” Crim recalls. Leaders sent home flyers inviting parents to rent a table or, instead, donate their household items to the PTO to sell. School secretaries generously offered a few feet of precious office space to store the goods.

What Went Wrong: A few nights before the yard sale, parent volunteers began sorting and pricing the inventory of donated items at the school. “We started to get a sinking feeling,” Crim says. Many items were broken, in need of mending, or horribly stained.

What Happened Next: “We marked what we could and ended up throwing a majority of the items in the dumpster that evening,” says Crim, proving that sometimes one man’s trash is, indeed, another man’s trash.

The Outcome: “The day of the sale was cold and windy, and we only had about a half-dozen tables of items to sell,” Crim says. Only one vendor actually rented a table. “He felt sorry for us and donated $20.”

Notable quote: The sale will long be remembered, says Crim, and not just for poor sales results: “Afterward, the office had roaches bad!”

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