The true spirit of St. John was evident at the Animal Care Center’s “No Fleas Please Flea Market” on Saturday, October 20, when members of the community from all walks of life came together to buy and sell everything from clothing to furniture to raise money for the local animal shelter.
The fundraiser far surpassed the ACC’s goal of $10,000, bringing in more than $13,000 for the shelter. The funds will help the ACC pay for new dog runs constructed earlier this year.
“It was fabulous,” said ACC board president B.J. Harris. “It was wonderful, and everybody chipped in. People from all walks of life helped us set up and put it together and sell stuff, and then everybody in the community came out and bought stuff.”
In addition to raising money, the community came together for the event, reminding ACC board member Bonny Corbeil of the good old days on St. John.
“It was probably the most harmonizing event I’ve seen in a long time,” said Corbeil. “It was an all-community event — the kind of thing that used to happen in the old days. The best part was getting to see people hug each other and interact on a level I haven’t seen on St. John in a very long time.”
The timing of the event could not have been better, with people moving to the island and villas changing out their amenities in preparation for tourist season, explained Corbeil.
“The timing was perfect because now is when villas take count of what they have, and a lot of businesses are getting ready for season, having sales to get rid of things that aren’t selling,” she said. “Also, a lot of people move in October. I met about five people who’d just arrived, and just moved into their apartments and didn’t have any basic stuff; it made me happy to see some of their needs being met.”
While the animals will benefit greatly from the fundraiser, many locals also benefited when they walked away happy from the flea market with items they usually would not be able to afford.
Corbeil witnessed one woman delight in toys donated by the grandchildren of Dr. Elaine Campbell, the ACC board member who came up with the flea market idea.
“The kids cleaned up their toys, itemized everything and sent them all down to sell,” Corbeil said. “There was an island grandmother who ended up buying a lot of those beautiful toys for her grandchildren for Christmas. I thought that was a very special story.”
Event Will be Annual
“Another interesting story was a local senior citizen who didn’t have too much money,” Corbeil continued. “She was so delighted over this eight-yard piece of fabric that came from Fabric Mill. She would never have been able to afford that, but we made her a deal and she kept telling me, ‘I’m going to make my couch look really nice for Christmas.’”
One lucky resident walked away from the flea market with a car, thanks to the raffle of a 1991 Suzuki Swift, donated by ACC board member Oriel Smith.
“We generated about $2,500 in ticket sales from the car raffle,” said Harris. “The car was won by Mike at the Beach Bar, and when I called him and told him he’d won, he said, ‘give me a break, you’re kidding.’ I had to tell him he won about four or five times before he believed me.”
The flea market was such a success, the ACC plans to host the event annually. Harris hopes to eventually be able to have a flea market open daily to bring in funds for the local animal shelter, she explained.
“Everyone wanted us to do it again next month, but we will do it next year for sure,” said Harris. “My goal for the center is to find a piece of land in the country, move up there, and we could collect items and sell them all year. But until we get that piece of land in the country, we’ll do it at least once a year, possibly twice a year.”
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