How One Woman Transformed Two-Day Yard Sale Into Year’s Worth of Kindness

An Arlington woman recently hosted her third annual “Kindness Yard Sale,” where each item is pay-what-you-want, and she uses the money to go towards other acts of kindness throughout the year.

Susan Thompson-Gaines recently held her third-annual “Kindness Yard Sale” at her home in Arlington. If you drove by, you may have noticed a teddy bear larger than a human, shelves full of books, racks of clothes and tables covered in toys. All of these items are for sale, for whatever price the customer chooses to pay — there is no judgement in Thompson-Gaines’s yard. You will simply hear “Thanks” and “Have a nice day.”

Susan Thompson-Gaines, a Òkindness activistÓ who lives in Arlington, Va., has held a Kindness Yard Sale for the past three years to raise money that goes toward supporting acts of kindness all year long. Some of the funds raised last year went to host a virtual beach party for people living with Alzheimer, buying camping supplies for a teen who had never been out of the city, and fulfilling the Christmas wishes of children who wrote letters to Santa. Her most recent yard sale was held Sept. 18 and 19. (Theresa Vargas/TWP)

Thompson-Gaines believes that “kindness ripples” and that kind acts spread from one person to another; she refers to herself as a “kindness activist,” according to The Washington Post.

“I am a vigorous advocate of KINDNESS!” she writes on a blog where she explains how the yard sale earnings are spent. “I hunt for it. I appreciate it. And, whenever I can, I SPREAD IT!”

The funds from each year’s yard sale go toward acts of kindness throughout the year. After last year’s sale, Thompson-Gaines helped buy camping gear for a boy who had never left the city, threw a virtual beach party for a group of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and kept an outdoor pantry stocked with food

The earnings also helped purchase a fetal Doppler for a pregnant woman whose husband could not hear the child’s heartbeat at the hospital due to coronavirus restrictions, paying a woman’s DMV fees while she went through the process of transferring the car title of her deceased father into her name, and adding coffee pods to a teacher’s lounge. 

They even went toward helping Thompson-Gaines play Santa for the kids in her neighborhood. “It was so fun,” she said. “I’m hoping we’ll be able to repeat that this year. And I know the kids in the neighborhood are counting on it.”

Thompson-Gaines, who works as an American Sign Language interpreter, said the event has evolved tremendously over the past three years. It is now a communal effort that relies on volunteers and donations. 

“This year, it was just like an army of people saying, ‘I’m here, what do you need?’ ” she said. She has also taken note of the many people that now use the collective “we” when talking about the event. “People will say, ‘How did we do today?’ It’s become a community thing, which I love.”

Image source: WTOP, The Washington Post