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Shopping for a cause: Haiti Yard Sale returns for first time since pandemic

Thousands of items were on offer last week in North Garden for a fundraiser that regularly raises thousands of dollars to support orphans in Haiti.

It was the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic that the Haiti Yard Sale supporting the Robert N. Ford Orphanage and School Foundation was put on.

This year, the yard sale ran for three days — Thursday through Saturday — selling holiday decorations, home decor, crafts and more collected over the past six weeks at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church and the Crossroads shops south of Charlottesville.

While it’s been absent for four years, the yard sale came back bigger than ever this year.

It took 42 volunteers to help set up and staff the yard sale this year, organizers said.

“I love it. It’s a big deal. There is no doubt about it,” Raymond Ford told The Daily Progress.

Ford is a retired Charlottesville physician who co-founded the secular, nonprofit Robert N. Ford Foundation with his father: the late Robert N. Ford.

All proceeds from the local fundraiser benefit the Charlottesville-based foundation, which supports the orphanage and school that the Fords founded in northern Haiti in 2001.

Raymond Ford said he was working with a clinic in Haiti at the time when community elders in the rural community of Grison-Garde started the conversation about how to help the Haitian children who had lost their parents to illness in the area.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Raymond Ford said. “We were working in that community and had been at a medical clinic we support all year around, so I was a familiar face. They came to me, three or four older guys, and had plans drawn up by an engineer.”

Robert Ford was 90 at the time and retired, his son recounted, but he had one response: “Let’s do it.”

The Fords provided the financial support, but they have always been adamant that the hard work — and the benefits of that hard work — belong entirely to the Haitian people.

Construction on the first buildings began in February 2002. Over the past two decades, the project has only grown in size.

Today, the Centre Orphelinat Maranatha de la Victoire includes not only an orphanage but a primary, middle and high school, a vocational school, a cafeteria and kitchens, a computer center, a playground and a soccer field. The orphanage alone supports 50 children between the ages of 5 and 15. Meanwhile, between Maranatha and other community schools supported by the Fords’ foundation, roughly 2,500 children in northern Haiti have access to daily meals and educational resources.

Before the pandemic, the Haiti Yard Sale in Albemarle County had been running for about 12 years. In 2019, its last year before the COVID-induced hiatus, the sale raised roughly $17,000.

All proceeds of that sale, and all Haiti Yard Sales, go directly from donors’ to Haitian hands, Raymond Ford said.

It’s a dedication and commitment that attracted compliments, as well as dollars, last week.

“Super nice people, just lovely and the work they do,” Gary Marchini, an Albemarle resident said while shopping at the yard sale.


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