When the annual "Community Day" event was squelched by economic conditions, family involvement liaison Tina Pakis and her colleagues put their love of flea markets and organizational experience to work and created a win-win event that brought out the community and turned a profit for the family program of their special school.
Teachers, families, and community members
"We rented spaces and tables to vendors, most of which were from our neighborhood," Pakis told Education World. "We opened up the activity to our families and provided them with a free space to set up shop, and we gave our teachers a discount. The school held the best concession, which consisted of hot dogs, soft pretzels, chips, and soda, and we offered free face painting by a very talented volunteer."
Pakis was inspired by the camaraderie among the vendors. All supported each other and got along, with many vendors buying items from other vendors. There was no obvious competition, and one vendor's altruism was both meaningful and memorable for Pakis.
"One of our preschoolers died of cancer eight months ago. Her mother wanted to set up a table to sell cupcakes to earn money to be split up between the oncology department of our local children's hospital and our parent group," Pakis recalled. "The cupcakes were wonderful and a big hit. The child's mother brought her whole family to sit with her to sell the cupcakes. It was wonderful and inspiring to have them here."
Face painting was a popular activity
Although the flea market was heavily advertised, volunteers were required to draw additional attention to it with signs that guided visitors to the school's small street. Pakis seeks to get an earlier start next year and plans to begin advertising to staff and families well in advance of the event.
"This event made us feel closer to our community," she shared. "We considered it to be a success not only from a monetary perspective but especially from a perspective of building a better relationship with our community."