Tables piled high with books, clothes, shoes, stereo gear, television sets and bric-a-brac of every description lined Joyce Bridges’ perfectly manicured front lawn on a sunny Friday afternoon for what has to be one of the biggest “garage sales” around.
And when all was said and done, the Destrehan woman and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church's Fountain of Youth Ministry - which staged the event - had raked in a whopping $13,000 to provide food, clothes and school supplies for orphans in two homes living in Piedras-Negras, Mexico.
Bargain hunters from as far away as Houma converged on the spot, snatching up everything in sight for the good cause.
And this isn’t the first garage sale held to benefit the orphans. Over the past 3 months, Bridges and St. Borromeo have staged two others. Total take for the charities? $14,015.
"When I first went to Mexico I met a family that was so poor they used concrete blocks with a thin cloth stretched between for a beds," said Janeen Rodrigue, St. Borromeo's youth director.
"After I returned from my trip, I had a dream and I believe I was being called to continue God's work in this part of the world.
“But I didn't know how I was going to get it done.
“I went to the priest in charge of the orphanage and I asked him what I could do to help.
“He said, ‘We need money for the children.’”
Rodrigue and her youth group brainstormed and came up with the idea to hold garage sales to raise funds for the orphans.
"The children in the orphanages depend upon missionary church groups like ours to survive," she said.
"I talked things over with the youth group and we decided to have a series of garage sales to get money to help them.
"Joyce (Bridges) has been kind enough to let us use her home.
"Friends, family and complete strangers pitched in and helped me to organize the sale or spread the word throughout the community.”
Rodrigue received a complaint from a resident in Ormond Estates, where Bridges lives, about having because he felt the sales were distracting and could hurt property values in the subdivision.
Undaunted - and convinced she was doing the right thing - she carried on.
"I began to pray,” she said. “I needed a sign from God to show me I was doing the right thing.
"On the first day of our first garage sale within a four-hour time span, we raised $8,400 for the children - and that was confirmation enough for me.
Rodrigue wasn't planning on staging another garage sale this year.
But after finding out one of the orphanages had a debt it couldn't pay, she rallied her troops and came to the rescue yet again.
"Two months ago we had another garage sale and we promised that it would be the last one," said Rodrigue.
"Then we got a disturbing call that one of the orphanages owed the Mexican government money for taxes and couldn't pay.
“Some of the furniture was taken from the facility and sold to cover the debt.
"Once we heard the news, we decided to do one more."
Rodrigue and the St. Charles Borremeo youth group will travel to Mexico in June with the money and replace the furniture that was sold because of the tax debt.
And the kids are looking forward to it.
Amy Mahler, a student volunteer, told the Herald-Guide: “Whenever we visit the country we bond with the children. I went on my first trip last year and I thought it was just going to be a trip away from home, but I but learned so much from the children about God’s love."