When I was eight, my nine year-old neighbor/BFF went through her jewelry box, decided to sell what she didn’t want anymore. She offered up a heart necklace for a dime, and now that her ears were pierced, her clip-on earrings were a nickel a pair. I couldn’t believe my luck! I’d never be able to afford those shiny things at a regular store, but I could raid my piggy bank and have a week’s worth of new accessories! This was the day I discovered the truth in the phase, ‘One person’s trash is another’s treasure.’

An intense love of garage sales and thrift stores quickly developed. I looked for things big and small: clothes, jewelry, old books and magazines, purses. When I was ten I even talked my parents into buying the large, white, wooden dresser that I still use today—talk about a bargain for thirty bucks! As a kid, I loved combing the Wednesday Journal classifieds for any sale I could walk to. In high school, my friends and I waited eagerly for events at Oak Park’s Economy Shop.

I still always head to Goodwill before I hit the mall, but now I rarely get out to any garage sales. For the past couple of years, I’ve been living vicariously through an older gentleman who stops in at the Beacon on Saturday evenings and tells me about all of the sales he went to that day and the treasures he found. When I listen to him talk about his best discoveries—hanging wall tapestries, Elvis collectibles, and railroad memorabilia—I lament the lack of time that prevents me from driving around all weekend visiting sales.

But lucky for me, on Saturday April 27 (or April 28 if it rains) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Park District will be holding its giant Family Garage Sale and Flea Market on the lawn in front of the pool and administrative building. Superintendent of Recreation Stacy Lafortune says it is one of the Park District’s most popular events. Last year, they rented out all 30 of their tables, so this year they’ve borrowed more from the Community Center, raising the number to 35 or 40. That’s like a summer’s worth of garage sales you can hit in one day! Or, on the flipside, if your family is in spring-cleaning mode and you want to get rid of those old toys, clothes, and other household items, now is your chance. Stop by or contact the Park District at 366-7500 to sign up for a table.

I’ll be selling a bunch of my old treasures to benefit C.A.T.S. for Forest Park. I volunteer for this local org, which cares for our village’s feral cats, and most importantly makes sure they are neutered. Animal Care League does low-cost neutering and immunizations for us, but we still need to raise capital to continue doing what we do. We thought this could be a fun way to benefit the kitties and do some much-needed household purging. If you’re looking for books, magazines, and band t-shirts, be sure to stop by our table on Saturday because I’ll have a ton!

Aside from raising money for C.A.T.S., I know the best part will be watching the children make the same discovery I did at age eight. That has always been Stacy Lafortune’s biggest delight at this event as well. “It’s great to see kids get so excited for a used purse or skateboard and seeing their smiles when their parents let them purchase them,” she says. So, if for no other reason, come out for those smiles!

Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally...