SCALED-BACK MCC SALE RETURNING SATURDAY
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
Given concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Edie Tschetter said it was a no-brainer to cancel the South Dakota Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sale last summer.
“It wasn’t even a question,” said Tschetter, a relief sale committee member and key organizer who has worked with the fundraiser since it debuted in Sioux Falls in 1987.
The real question was what to do in 2021, and Tschetter admits she was a little surprised earlier this year when the committee met and appeared eager to revisit the sale.
“Back in January, when we first met, everybody on the board really wanted to go forward,” she said. “They wanted to do something and thought we could do something in person.”
That “something” will unfold this Saturday evening, July 10, when the relief sale heads outdoors to the grounds of the Freeman Prairie Arboretum. Activities begin at 5:30 p.m.
Lingering caution as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 means this year’s fundraiser won’t be the large-scale effort of previous years, but it will, in at least a few ways, resemble sales of the past. There will be children’s activities, the familiar My Coins Count fundraiser for MCC’s water project in Nicaragua, and a live auction, albeit an abbreviated one.
“You just start completely over and look at it as a totally different event,” Tschetter said of the planning process for this year’s sale. “We have our notes; we would normally look back on what you did when planning for this year, but we can’t do that.”
She says there are some nerves.
“Absolutely; but it’s exciting, too, to do something different.”
What to expect
There are several changes to the 2021 sale aside from the move outdoors:
There will be no big meal and variety of food options for those attending. Instead, pie and ice cream will be available, along with sno-cones and ice cream cones. Kettle corn and homemade noodles will also be for sale.
Another change is actually an addition — live entertainment. The first set of music will begin at 6:45 p.m., followed by the live auction at approximately 7:30 p.m., and then a second set of music to conclude the night.
The live auction won’t feature nearly the number of items, but rather around a dozen. And those who don’t want to purchase an item but still want to donate may do so through a blessing bid.
Tschetter says planning for this year’s sale has been a challenge, not only because it’s new, but also because organizers didn’t know what to expect when having those earlier conversations.
“We had three scenarios to plan for — heavy Covid, mild Covid and then the third — what if it rains?” she said. “And we still don’t know if it will be B or C, because we don’t know if it’s going to rain.”
If it does, all activities will move into the Pioneer Hall auditorium.
Tschetter said those attending Saturday’s sale should bring a lawn chair and will need to obtain a number if they want to do any bidding; payment can be in the form of a card at the end of the evening. Cash is also accepted for purchases at the sale, but no change will be made.
Other than that, she said, people should know they are encouraged to take part in this important fundraiser for an important mission.
“Come, have a good time and enjoy the evening,” she said.
History of change
This isn’t the first major change relief sale organizers have had to make. In fact, the sale that has long been affiliated with Mennonite Central Committee’s efforts to provide relief across the world has a history of adaptation and change.
Established in 1987 as the Minn-Kota Relief Sale, the fundraiser spent its first 25 years in Sioux Falls, first at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds and then at the Sioux Falls Arena, before taking a two-year hiatus in 2012 and 2013.
The following year, a reimagined South Dakota MCC Relief Sale debuted at the Freeman Community Center before moving to Pioneer Hall the following year; the fundraiser continued there from 2016-2019 before being suspended in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We canceled the sale but we still tried to do some things,” said Tschetter, who noted they promoted blessing bids and cash donations through the churches and had several items for sale through a silent auction. “And we did OK considering what we had to work with.”
She’s glad to be back at it in person, even if it is a scaled-back effort.
“It will be a fun evening,” she said. “We’ll do what we can do.”