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Four friends raise $8,000 for cancer research
When four friends from Castle Hills decided to hold a garage sale to raise money for cancer research, they never dreamed it would become the monster sale it is now.
In 2011, Stefani Doyle, Cailee Dennis, Kristen Lee and Anna Elkin, all Hebron High School freshmen, held their first annual cancer garage sale. Their goal was to raise $1,000. At the end of their two-day sale, they raised $5,000 that was donated to the American Cancer Society.
"I was thinking of ways to raise money for cancer research. One year I had a lemonade stand with Anna, but we wanted to be able to make more money," Lee said. "Then we had the idea to do the garage sale. We sent a mass email to the neighborhood, and we started getting donations soon after that."
The 14-year-old teens planned and organized the garage sale from beginning to end. This year they held the second annual cancer garage sale. After two full days and a presale day, they raised $8,000 that was again donated to the American Cancer Society - in cash.
"We walked in there with a bucket full of cash. It was more fun to donate it that way," Lee said. "The garage sale was a lot harder this year because we received so many more donations for the sale. We also had more people attend the sale."
Preparations for the sale began in June when they set email blasts to neighbors, friends, family and classmates, promoted the sale on Craigslist and held a presale.
"We'd come home and there would be donations on the front steps," Elkin said. "We had so much stuff to sell."
Many people donated items to the garage sale including a painting donated by a woman whose sister died from cancer. Another woman was going to have a garage sale, but instead donated everything to the cancer garage sale.
"One lady who owns a shop donated racks of brand new clothing," Doyle said. "The tags were even still on them."
There were so many items for the garage sale - heavily donated by Castle Hills residents - that the girls, and their volunteers, organized the sale like a department store.
"It was like a mall," Elkin said. "We had a shoe department, different clothing departments and household departments."
Hundreds of people showed up for the sale and cars lined the streets. Doyle said people would come up to the check out with armfuls of items. Often they would round their total up in order to donate more money to the sale.
"We made sure people knew this garage sale was to raise money for cancer research. We also wanted people to feel involved so we made two signs that people could sign. One was in memory of cancer victims and the second was in honor of cancer survivors," Dennis said. "A lot of people of people we know signed the boards. We also heard a lot of stories from people who have been affected by cancer."
The girls said they could relate to a lot of the stories being told. Within one year, three of them had a parent diagnosed with cancer. In May 2011, Lee's father was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that develops from nerve tissue. He went through chemotherapy, radiation and a 15-hour surgery. He is now in remission.
Dennis' mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2011. She is currently in chemotherapy treatment. In the same month, Doyle's mother died from lung cancer just five weeks after her diagnosis.
"It was pretty shocking when my mom was diagnosed with cancer," Dennis said. "But having three parents with cancer hit us all pretty hard."
Susan Lee said it was hard for her daughter to see her dad so sick.
"My husband's cancer treatments made him very sick at times," Susan Lee said. "On days that it was really bad, she'd head out to the garage to sort and price items for the sale."
The girls are showing no sign of slowing down. They are already planning for next year's third annual cancer garage sale. They're expecting a bigger sale next year and are looking for a larger place to hold it.
"We wouldn't have been able to do this without our community," Elkin said. "It feels great to be able to help raise money for cancer research.
For information visit www.cancer.org.
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