First Christian Church of Morris is celebrating the 10th year of its hugely successful Price-less Day, a free exchange of clothing, home goods, electronics, furniture, books, toys, shoes, suitcases, and thousands of other donated items.
The event will be held this year on Wednesday, July 24, with doors opening at 7 a.m., and if things go the way they have the previous years, the vast majority of the offerings will be gone within the first hour.
Community members spend countless hours going through their closets, kitchens, bedrooms, attics and garages, then lugging the items to the church. That, of course, doesn’t include the days of sorting done by the volunteers in the church’s large gymnasium and adjoining rooms.
Amd all that work will be gone in a matter of minutes, each item having found a useful purpose in a second home.
Organizers of the event thank those in the community who have been so loyal over the years to donate and volunteer for Price-less Day. They have all come together every year to make the offerings plentiful, of good quality, and clean and safe.
And of the many volunteers, two have practically grown up with Price-less Day.
Tiffany Morrison, of Morris, was only 14 when she volunteered the first year, and over the past 10 years, she has not missed one.
“I really found my niche,” she said. “The book section became a passion of mine.”
Morrison, a library media assistant at Morris Community High School, does have a love of books. She also volunteers for other church events and needs. It was only natural for her to pitch in for the very first Price-less Day, and she has returned year after year to help.
“I love all the volunteers pulling together to provide something for the community,” she said. “It’s been really neat. . . There are so many positive things about being involved, like seeing the efforts other people put in and seeing the community or our church members come in and find just what they were looking for.”
Morrison said she knows the event has been inspired by God when she sees the good it brings year after year. And it’s not just those who “shop” for items who get things from Price-less Day. It’s also the volunteers, she said.
“It’s an excellent chance for us to bond as a church family,” she said. “It’s four or five days straight that we are with each other and get to talk and share with each other. We’ll get tired at the end of the day, but we really do enjoy it. Then right after it’s over, we start planning for next year.”
Brad King, of Minooka, has also volunteered at Price-less Day all ten years. He was only 8 the first year. His mother and the other adult volunteers made sure the younger kids didn’t work without play breaks, and that’s what King remembers most of those first years.
“I remember going straight to the toy table and just having a ball,” he said with a laugh.
One of his favorite memories was making a box fort on the stage of the gymnasium with his brothers. It was a little more than just a fort, though. The boys made rooms and tunnels with the cardboard boxes people had brought in with donations, and the children of the church’s volunteers were entertained for hours.
Over the years, King has helped with Price-less Day in various ways, such as helping sort the donations, taking garbage out, and helping carry items out to shoppers’ cars the day of the event. Perhaps one of his most import jobs has been helping carry the donations inside the building.
That function has evolved over the years from those who bring donations having to climb stairs and bring their items in themselves, to an assigned group of volunteers waiting outside the building to carry the donated items inside. Donors only have to drive up with their goods, and they will be taken care of.
“I love to help with Price-less Day,” King said. “To see everyone and to show God to everyone. I think it shows people that it’s not hard to do something good for the community. . . I love to see the people walking in and how their eyes glow when they find something they need.”
King said he is always amazed when he arrives at the church early the day of the event and sees the long line of shoppers waiting for the doors to open.
One new thing the church is providing for its Price-less Day guests this year is a port-a-potty. Organizers Diane King and Tanya Keech said it might not seem like such a big deal, but there are people who line up in the wee hours of the morning for the event, many with small children.
One family even camped out in the parking lot last year, they said, so providing facilities seemed like a good idea.
Jessie Sweeney is another young volunteer who also served all ten years. Of the adult volunteers, Diane King is one of four who has served every one of the 10 years. The others are Beth Morrison, Betty Zhe, and Debra Johnson.