For the second year now, Stansbury Park resident Mischa Smedley has held two biannual “giveaway” projects, redistributing donated, used clothes, shoes, books, toys, strollers, and other baby items to be reused by new families.
The most recent event was held at the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church on Bayshore Drive in Stansbury Park on Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
During the free event, members of the community visited the church and were able to pick out donated items for themselves and their families, including clothes, books, toys, strollers, and other baby items.
Everything was separated into categories, making it easy for individuals to find the items they were looking for. There were no limits put on the number of items they could take home.
The first hour of the event was set aside specifically for those who had donated the gently used items that made the event possible.
The idea for the giveaway project came to Smedley a few years ago when she was reading the Bible.
“A verse stuck out to me [John 1:16] and it used the words ‘grace upon grace,’ and I was like ‘This is what loving thy neighbor should feel like, like giving grace and receiving grace,’” Smedley said.
After reading the verse, Smedley said she was reminded of a program at Brigham Young University where her husband attended to obtain a degree in business administration and law.
“They have this event where families of the master’s of business administration and of the law school could come get gently used items for free while they were in school,” Smedley said. “The event opened up to the general public. I was like ‘Why isn’t there something like that out here where people could donate the things they don’t need that still have lots of life left and get stuff back in return, like a revolving door of giving and getting type of thing?’ So, I decided to start my own event.”
The first year’s event was held in Smedley’s back yard in 2021 with items her friends had donated.
“A lot of moms had baby items they didn’t need anymore but they needed things for older kids,” Smedley said.
For months before the events, Smedley and her friends gather donations from generous community members and store them in sheds, spare rooms, and garages until they are transported to the event the night before.
This year Smedley also collected supplies for a local school.
Although the event was free, Smedley asked those who could to donate a school supply. Those who brought a school supply were able to enter a raffle drawing. The raffle consisted of over $3,000 of items and gift certificates from local businesses and independent contractors put into 30 gift baskets. At the end of the event, the school supplies collected were given to Northlake Elementary in Tooele.
Smedley counted 13 large vehicles loads worth of gently used items collected over the past six months for the Nov. 5 event.
After the Nov. 5 event, Smedley reported that over 300 people attended the event. There were 75 volunteers who made the event possible.
Six tubs of school supplies were donated to Northlake Elementary School.
There were also six vehicle loads of items left over. The left over items were donated to local nonprofit organizations.
Smedley was also able to donate gently used, non-expired car seats, along with highchairs, strollers, cribs, other baby items, and clothes to the women at the Pathways Domestic Violence Shelter during spring 2022.
Smedley is now accepting donations for her next event, which will be held in spring 2023.
“You never know when a friend or neighbor is going to need help, so if you begin the practice of donating items to those in need now, you’ll be more able to help out those around you in the future,” Smedley said.
To coordinate drop-off of donated items, message Smedley on her Facebook page “The Grace Upon Grace Project.”
Smedley thanks the businesses that donated items for the raffle, and her three friends who help her run the program — Caitlyn Dixon, Kaley Durney, and Morgan Allen.
She also wants to thank the community for their donations.
“I couldn’t do this without them,” Smedley said. “I want my appreciation to be known, because this wouldn’t be possible without the community.”