American Rescue Workers is set to auction off hundreds of antiques and collectibles to the highest bidders at 5 p.m. today at 643 Elmira St. The public is invited to view the items in advance at 4 p.m.
There is a completely separate market for antiques and collectibles and the American Rescue Workers realized this in their early days of recycling donated items. "I remember my first auction that I attended as a new employee and the Commander told me I was to clerk - which meant writing down a short description of each item, the buyer number and the amount it sold for," said Colonel Dawn Astin. "That was in 1979 and I was very nervous listening to the fast paced call of the auctioneer fearing that I would miss a final sale amount, a caller number or get the two of them mixed up. I had to learn to tune out the noise around me and tune into the "chant" of the individual doing the "call" or the auctioneering. An auction is an extremely fast-paced sale of goods sold to the highest bidder."
Antiques and collectibles or other unique and eclectic items contributed to the American Rescue Workers go through an initial sorting process by hired individuals that are trained and educated to "have an eye" for these items which are taken to another designated space in their Elmira Street warehouse or distribution center. Colonel Sam Astin, the commanding officer and a number of trained volunteers, as well as Gary Johnson, director of eBay sales, then perform a second sort and streamline the items for auction, for eBay, Craig's List or for one of the organization's thrift stores that market antiques and collectibles for resale.
"Whichever market can command the highest retail price - that is where we will send that particular item," says Colonel Sam Astin. "Constant increases in health care costs, trucking expenses and operating expenses have continued to rise while our income has decreased. We are dealing with federal, state and private cuts to homeless prevention programs so a successful charity auction is imperative at this point in time," Col. Astin added.
American Rescue Workers have been a presence in Williamsport for more than 79 years providing donors an avenue for new or second-hand household items that they no longer have use for.
"It's a win-win situation for the donor and also for us as a non-profit. The donor has the benefit of claiming the contribution on their income taxes and as a non-profit we reap the benefits of the retail value of the contribution to fund our hunger and homeless prevention programs within Lycoming County," said Col. Astin.
In 2011 the new Saving Grace Shelter (funded in part by the Lycoming County United Way) had 227 homeless participants and 50 of them were children ranging in ages of 6 weeks to 18 years of age. In 2012 the number of homeless participants doubled to 450 and 100 of those were children. Food pantries are operated at the Social Service Center, 326 Bridge St., and The Love Center on the corner of Allegheny Streets in Jersey Shore. Between those two pantries 8,488 families were provided a three-day emergency supply of groceries. 15,014 individuals were provided a hot meal at the soup kitchen in Jersey Shore. Approximately 35,523 meals were provided to homeless men staying in The Men's Center and the Men's Transitional Shelter on Elmira Street.
Through the organization's Comprehensive Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) funded by the Lycoming County United Way, Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) funds, Emergency Food & Shelter Program (EFSP) funds and other private funds 617 families were prevented from becoming homeless.
Donated antiques and collectibles are given by families and individuals who choose making contributions to their favorite charity instead of having a yard sale or marketing the items themselves.
"Whatever the avenue or method of gift we count it a privilege to put that gift to work to alleviate human suffering here in Williamsport and Lycoming County" said Colonel Dawn Astin.
Colonel Sam Astin will begin the festivities at 5 p.m. and will be joined by students and instructors from the Harrisburg Area Community College auctioneering class of which he was a 2005 graduate. The auction will be held indoors with chairs provided. A Food Court will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. in the second floor dining room of the Elmira Street location. The public is invited to attend. For more information, call 279-1363.