MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Midstate school district is pooling together its resources to help local families in need.
Operation Wildcat has been a staple in the Mechanicsburg community since 2006. It was started by Leslie Collins and Maureen Ross and has since grown exponentially over the years. “We started with three projects: clothing, back to school supplies, and Thanksgiving baskets,” Ross said. “It has grown throughout the years and we now assist families with housewares, bedding, and furniture items, as well as gifts at the holiday season, bikes, prom/homecoming outfits, books, Christmas trees and ornaments, and more!”
A massive operation that requires an equal amount of storage and preparation. “We work year-round getting ready for our yard sales. When we started with sales 15 years ago, we were told that there was no way we could support a charity on yard sale fundraisers,” Ross said. “to date, we have raised over $191,000 through our sales. What once comprised a few pickup trucks full of stuff now takes a 26-foot truck to move almost 60 skids of items to the church. It is quite an undertaking, but one which the community has rallied around to help us pull off.”
It is that support from start to finish that helps Operation Wildcat become such a huge success year in and year out. “Our semi-annual yard sales are the only fundraising that Operation Wildcat does. As part of our mission ‘pool the resources,’ we take what people don’t want and sell it so that we can purchase items that are needed by our families,” Ross said. “In addition to that, we just purchased a service dog for the High School, we give money to the Recreation Department for programs/remote care, money is given to schools for the food pantries and to help with other student needs, and the list goes on.”
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With each year, adjustments are made. This year with loosened COVID regulations, the yard sale has made some exciting additions. “A highlight for us is that we will once again have the students from Mechanicsburg High School’s Life Skills class selling their baked goods and holding a basket raffle. The students add so much to our sale and we missed them last sale due to COVID restrictions,” Ross said. “We have a few food trucks to add a little extra to the sale and ask them to donate a portion of their sales to support the Recreational Scholarship Fund.”
The event runs Friday, Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, October 16 from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Be warned, if you plan on showing up on Friday morning, there is going to be a crowd. “Friday we usually have a line starting at 6:30 a.m. waiting for us to open the doors at 8 a.m. We will follow all COVID protocols to keep everyone safe It helps that when we held the sale in April everyone was more than respectful of each other,” Ross said.
That same respect has carried on for many years and it shows in both the monetary and emotional goals of the organization. “Back in 2006 the first yard sale raised $300 and we went out that night and purchased packs of socks and underwear,” Ross said. “The sale in April 2021 netted $14,600! Pretty amazing for a yard sale that is held for eight hours on a Friday and four and a half hours on a Saturday!” “It’s a pretty neat and unique organization with a lot of truly dedicated individuals whose sole mission is to help the kids in the Mechanicsburg School District. We all truly bleed maroon and steel!”
Operation Wildcat’s 17th Indoor Yard Sale will be held at the Mechanicsburg Brethren Christ Church at 1050 S. York Street, Mechanicsburg, PA, 17055. To learn more about Operation Wildcat, upcoming events, and other ways you can help, you can visit their website through the link here.