Harvest Fair goes on despite July floods |
Fox Chapel

Harvest Fair goes on despite July floods

RoxAnne Voelker, Judy Leininger and Marijo Crowe check out original tags on some exclusive labels donated to the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Women’s Association Harvest Fair. The Fashion Boutique, a new department this year, will sell clothing and housewares from high-end designers that have been deeply discounted. All sales benefit the association’s outreach grants.

Nothing is better than a bargain, and the annual Harvest Fair at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church always promises the best of them.

The church fair opens its doors at 5 p.m. Sept. 28, and continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 29.

This year, organizers wanted an extra draw. They created a fashion boutique area to offer shoppers high-end merchandise at bargain basement prices.

Volunteer RoxAnne Voelker, who doubles as a shopper, listed labels of clothing like she was reading from a tantalizing menu. She and her committee have collected donations from White House/Black Market, Cabi, Et Cetera, Free People, Missoni and St. John, along with purses, shoes, scarves and costume jewelry from Vera Bradley, Coach and other posh names.

The boutique collection will fill the old chapel, a level away from Fellowship Hall where the majority of donations are displayed for sale.

Special, high-profile items such bridal and golf clothing, as well and children’s and men’s items will be available.

The much-anticipated event took shape despite a July 2 flood that devastated the spacious sale rooms at the church on the corner of Field Club and Fox Chapel roads.

Collections in waiting were wet and ruined. Volunteers filled Dumpsters with would-be sale items, and their spirits were quickly dampened.

“Everything in the basement area was hit,” volunteer Marijo Crowe said.

“There was a huge effort for two weeks, every single day, as all volunteers washed and cleaned. The water wasn’t clean, and that’s why many things had to be scrapped.”

Voelker said people proved their generosity by donating again.

“It got me moving,” Voelker said. “Because of the tragedy, people were even more willing to donate.”

The Forrest Manor resident, who isn’t even a member of the church, stepped up to coordinate the fashion boutique space. She went to friends and neighbors and solicited upscale items, turning her daughter’s bedroom into Harvest Fair storage. She was impressed by the willingness of people to donate items gently worn or even brand new with tags.

Carabella, the Oakmont store where Crowe works, donated some sale merchandise.

“The quality of things we’ve gotten this year is better than in the past,” Harvest Fair Director Gwen Zaleski said.

Zaleski is concerned the July floods will hurt the bottomline for proceeds. Last year’s event raised $116,000 which was doled out to local, national and international nonprofits.

“None of it comes to the church,” volunteer Judy Leininger said.

“It serves missions in so many ways,” Crowe said.

Still, all involved are happy the sale is marching on. While volunteers support the fundraiser for its higher purpose, it’s the low prices and thrill of the hunt which makes the Harvest Fair fun, too.

“If you like stuff, this is the place,” Crowe said.

“It appeals to everyone. You really can’t beat the pricing on anything,” Voelker said.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer.

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