An amazing thing happened in your home state of Illinois today. Right here in Chicago, in the Rogers Park neighborhood, a fantastic display of political activism took place. A small group of friends decided to organize a garage sale in which at least 50% of the proceeds would be donated to your campaign. Many within our circle of friends and relations volunteered to donate items to the sale as well, believing it to be a great idea. We were hard at work for days, clearing out our closets, cabinets, and garages around here, pulling together as many items as possible to donate. I know I speak for more people than myself when I say that there were items I never would have been willing to part with were it not for the benefit of this campaign – and therefore, the benefit of all of us.
We were all up late last night, organizing, sorting, and deliberating over pricing of our sale items, and then up at the crack of dawn to begin setting up before people arrived. And arrive they did. Those who had seen our ads began shopping well before we were prepared for them, but no matter; we were happy to collect their money. We decided on the spot that we would all simply donate 100% of our earnings to your campaign to increase the impact of our work.
For the next 10 hours, there was a steady stream of shoppers. Neighbors, friends, and garage sale buffs arrived, ready to buy. We sold books, children’s clothes, furniture, shoes, costumes, toys, sheets, blankets, rugs…you name it. There were no hecklers – no McCain supporters stopping by to challenge us. There was also very little negotiation: not only were most people happy to pay the prices we had set, but those who were able to, rounded up. This is not a wealthy community on the whole, Mr. Obama. Money doesn’t grow on trees here. One elderly woman returned three times, each time choosing one item that cost her a single dollar. As she walked toward home pulling a $1.00 suitcase behind her after the third visit, she told me, Those campaign callers, they want so much money. I can’t give them $15 or $25 or $100. But I can do this. Many of our customers were Spanish speaking and some sent their children to ask us how much certain items cost. We sold the vast majority of our items for $3.00 or less. For so many people to say “keep the change” is a very big deal.
As the day went on, a trend developed that we did not expect. A surprising number of shoppers were inspired to run home and collect a pile of their own giveaways to bring to us. One woman came back half an hour later with a brand new pair of high quality roller blades and laid them down next to the shoes. A young man, probably a college student, returned with a huge stack of clothing and books. A woman in her 20s returned multiple times, once with brand new board games that had never been unwrapped and then with an entire box of unopened cosmetics. The women of Rogers Park will be wearing Mary Kay for the next ten years. Every time she left to get more, she ran across the street shouting over her shoulder, I’m all about Obama!
I did not understand how empowering this event would be. What started out as some friends putting together a little garage sale became a true community event in which some of our neighborhood’s most disenfranchised members were proud to participate. We know many more of our neighbors now as well, which leads to a safer, friendlier community. With this type of event, everyone wins.
You can see in the photos shown here that we had a beautifully diverse crowd, representative of our neighborhood. One thing that we all had in common was a belief that our country can do better; can be better. We believe that sending you and Joe Biden to the White House is the first step in creating this change. And we all worked together to make that happen. We have the honor of sending your campaign a check in the amount of $925.00. We raised that money dollar by dollar, 25-cent beach ball by 50-cent pair of flip flops, $1.00 potty training seat by $5.00 box of terra cotta tiles. But we raised it, all in one day, and it’s on its way to you. It comes with the love, dedication and hope of the people of Chicago, right here in your own backyard.
Go get ’em, Obama!