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One man’s junk could be a profit for Africa

PORT GAMBLE — As the saying goes, one man’s junk tends to be another man’s treasure and Godwin Selembo hopes it holds true for his new nonprofit effort that will help raise money for a much needed hospital in Tanzania, Africa.

Selembo and his business partner, Chris Davenport, have been tirelessly, yet quickly, organizing Swap Meets for Charity (SMFC) the past month and a half in preparation for the group’s kick-off event this weekend — the first of their monthly summer swap meets.

The organization is a branch of International Evangelism Outreach Inc. (IEO), a Washington state nonprofit that has been sponsoring humanitarian mission work overseas for the past 10 years, specifically in Tanzania. IEO financially supports programs such as establishing trade and elementary schools, drilling wells for small villages and currently, raising money to build a hospital in Tanzania. The charity also sends large containers full of food, clothing and bicycles to the same area several times a year.

Selembo and Davenport hope the swap meets, which will run the third weekend of each month through October, will become a consistent source of funding for IEO. It is not associated with the Port Gamble Sunday Market, which also takes place in town every weekend through October.

Davenport is from the East Coast where swap meets are very popular, Selembo explained, but with the number of garage sales that take place in the North End, the duo decided to create a venue for people to sell their goods while also supporting a good cause.

“It’s potential residual income,” Selembo said.

The idea is to have multiple types of vendors, as both small businesses and residents can rent a 10-foot-by-10-foot space. The rental fee goes toward the nonprofit and the organization takes care of all the advertising of the event — the sellers just have to lease a space ahead of time, show up, sell and keep their proceeds.

“We want this to be more of a positive thing for the community,” Selembo said.

If vendors have leftover items, they can see if the SMFC will accept them to sell or, if appropriate, send them to Africa, Selembo said.

Residents can also donate items, which would be sold during the meet and the proceeds would benefit the charity, directly to SMFC. The group is a registered non-profit, so donations are tax-deductible.

“It’s a good collective, win, win, win for everyone,” Selembo said.

On a local level, SMFC will also provide free spaces for local non-profits to conduct their own fund-raising.

The first swap meet weekend will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 16 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 17 at the tennis courts in Port Gamble. More than 10 people have already reserved spots for the first event, he said.

The goal is to raise $150,000 this summer for the hospital from the vendor rental fees and concessions, Selembo said.

Pretty much anything can be sold, except fireworks, ammunition, alcohol of any kind, drug-related items, pornography, tobacco products, mace and mace-like products, stolen products, any product that is illegal to have or own in the State of Washington and concession type items, as SMFC has the exclusive right to sell all concession items. Vendors/sellers may sell prepackaged food, bulk food and non-prepared food items.

For more information, go to www.swapmeetsforcharity.org.

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