They say all good things must come to an end. And for the past 48 years, the "two to three" rummage sales and bazaars that Sister Lauren Weinandt has held each year at Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys campus have been very good things. "The rummage sales and bazaars, along with other projects the Sisters have done, have raised more than $1 million for the clinic's Poverello Fund," Sister Lauren tells us. "It's been wonderful feeling to know we've been able to help patients through these sales. It just makes us feel good."
With her final sale — held last week — now in the books, Sister Lauren tells the Rochester Post-Bulletin that helping patients is what she'll miss most. "It's been a good outlet for me," she tells the paper. "It allowed me to do missionary work here in Rochester."
It's also allowed her to build lasting friendships (and memories) with the "tight-knit" group of volunteers who have helped make each sale and bazaar possible. Volunteers like Bertilla (Bert) Mullenbach, now 102, who has helped with the sales from their beginning. "We held the first sale in the gym of St. John's Catholic School in 1968," Bert tells us. "We had a flatbed truck, and Sister Lauren and I rode on the back of that truck holding a rack of clothes for the sale, and the clothes were flying back and forth. We laughed all the way to St. John's."
Things got a little easier after some classrooms became available on the Saint Marys campus. "We then started having the sales here at Saint Marys," Bert says. "They started small, but kept growing. Before we knew it, we were in three rooms instead of just one."
"And the hall!" Sister Lauren interjects. "Oh, that's right. The hallway was filled with stuff, too," Bert says.
Over the years, the P-B reports that "stuff" has included such hot-ticket items as "lamps, homemade jellies, stuffed animals," Sister Generose Gervais's famed pickles, and "a variety of 150 pies." And as word about the sales and bazaars grew each year, Sister Lauren tells us she knows of at least one person who "spent the night in a sleeping bag" to be first in line.
Sister Lauren tells us there's one patron she'll remember most. "There was this young girl, I think she had leukemia," Sister Lauren says. "She and her family were looking at this little trampoline we had. They told me they'd like to buy it, but it was just too much money. So when they went off and started looking at other things, I marked it down to a price I knew they could afford." The young girl didn't just get a new trampoline, however. "She also told me she'd never owned a doll," Sister Lauren says. "So I gave her a doll, too. Those are the kinds of things I'll always remember."
As will, we're guessing, the customers and patients who have been on the receiving end of that kind of generosity for the past 48 years.
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