By Jean Tumbarello

It is no secret that the global pandemic has hit every person, every business, every community, the State, and the nation very hard. While some businesses have actually prospered as a result of the pandemic, others have faltered to the point of closing their doors forever, sending countless lives into a tailspin. The non-profit community has not been immune to the ongoing crisis. The organizations that have been a help and comfort to so many have found themselves in precarious financial situations with donations suddenly drying up as people tighten their belts to take care of their own needs.

Garrett County has many non-profit organizations that help every part of our community. Garrett Mentors, AAUW, Lions, Elks and Rotary clubs, Cindy’s Fund, Civic Club, DCL Watershed Foundation, the Humane Society, HART, the Lighthouse, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, House of Hope, GLAF, Garden Club, James Isaac House, Rescue Squads, the list goes on and on. Each of these organizations has seen big changes in the past year as fundraising efforts have been cancelled or dramatically reduced. Leaders of these organizations have had to get very creative to find ways to keep their services operational and help the people they serve.

As the vaccine rollout gains momentum and more of the population are able to get vaccinated, we are beginning to see a glimmer of hope as the weather turns warm and the countryside starts to green up. Non-profit organizations are taking advantage of people wanting to be outside, to see friends, and celebrate a little more freedom – even though we still need to wear a mask and social distance – by creating some new outdoor fundraising events and resuming some familiar ones.

The Civic Club of Oakland has been “in business” for over 100 years. It is probably one of the oldest non-profits in the county. The ladies of the Civic Cub have been helping the community in many ways ever since its founding in 1911. The club was started to clean up rubbish from the town of Oakland. One of its presidents, Dr. Lorilla Tower, was active in the suffrage movement. During WWII members rolled bandages. Today the club’s activities include operating a small thrift shop for clients of the Lighthouse, supporting veterans at the hospital in Martinsburg and making small favors for nursing home residents. The Club has adopted a portion of Highway 219 in McHenry to clean up trash along the roadside. In addition to all these efforts, the club also provides funding to local nonprofits in the form of small grants. The annual Antique and Makers Market raises money to fund the grants but last year, the event was cancelled because of the pandemic. With twenty-two organizations filing petitions for funding in 2021, the club’s board had to figure out how to make up for lost revenue. Just before the holidays, the club issued a ‘Then and Now’ cookbook based on recipes from the club’s original 1914 cookbook paired with their modern equivalents. Over the winter, members came up with a new fundraiser – the “Anything and Everything Goes” Flea Market to be held on May 1 from 10 am to 1 pm at the Farmers Market Pavilion in downtown Oakland.

The Antique & Makers Market, held on Autumn Glory weekend, is a more formal event with fine antiques and timeless handmade items. The Flea Market event will allow just about any (family-oriented) items to be sold – farm produce, antique & vintage items, home business, yard sale items. This is a one-day – three-hour event and all the proceeds will help with the grant funding for local non-profits.  “Vendor response has been really good – all the inside pavilion tables have been rented but outside spaces are still available,” said event chair Jean Tumbarello.  Vendors who buy an outside space need to provide their own tables and chairs and canopy. Space is on a first-come basis, pre-registration is encouraged. The cost is $15 until April 24. After that, the price goes up to $20 per space.

The Civic Club is only one of many nonprofit organizations trying to raise money to support their work. A few other events to look forward to – A ‘Derbytini” party on May 1 for GLAF, In June the Mountain Laurel Garden Club is resuming it annual Garden Tour. In July Mt Lake Park will be holding a Victorian Chautauqua. The Deep Creek Lions Club will be holding a boat sale, a boat parade on July 3, a poker cruise on Aug 15 and a new event- the Meshach Browning Pioneer Challenge on Aug 28.

These are only a few of the many events that will be taking place this year. Attending or participating in any of these events is a fun way to support local programs. Over the spring and summer check out our event page for many new and some old familiar events to support your favorite local charity.

For more information about the Civic Club Flea Market on May 1, email Jean at gfwc.oakland@yahoo.com