Local man puts on yard sale to drill wells in Uganda
July 24, 2013
By Kristine Kim
The blacktop area at North Bend Elementary School will overflow with furniture, clothes and a variety of knick-knacks July 26 to 28. The merchandise, collected over the last five months, has filled 10 storage units and a couple of garages. This is not just any old garage sale.
Don Baunsgard came up with the idea of “Save the Children Yard Sale” in January. He hopes to raise $15,000 to drill wells for clean water in Africa, particularly in Uganda. Since starting, he has received donations from individuals and businesses throughout the Snoqualmie Valley community, including the items in those 10 storage units and 1,000 hot dogs and buns from Costco. Four live bands will entertain shoppers during the three-day event.
“The good news was that since I grew up here and have been part of the community for so long, I know lots and lots of people here,” Baunsgard said. “I knew I could get a tremendous amount of support here in the valley.”
Baunsgard, 44, has visited Uganda twice, once in 2006 and again in 2007. It was on those trips that he realized what he wanted to do in his life.
“My heart is really in Africa. I love those people,” he said. “I got a calling to finally do something.”
When Baunsgard approached Monty Wright, the lead pastor at the Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church, about the yard sale, the first thing the church leader said was, “What do you need?” Wright led the groups which Baunsgard went with to Uganda six and seven years ago, and he knows what this project could mean to Baunsgard and the global community.
“I’ve known Don for a very long time. Don’s a passionate guy. He’s just all across the board and lets us know what else he needs,” Wright said.
The pastor founded the nonprofit Planet Changer, which focuses its mission on four areas dealing with poverty: water, food, human trafficking and the global orphan crisis. According to Wright, water captured Don’s heart. And the community’s equally passionate response to Don’s goal does not surprise Wright.
“When we want to do something for a purpose that is greater than ourselves, that strikes a divine hum that resides inside of everybody,” the pastor said. “People respond to that selflessness. It motivates people to donate.”
This fundraiser is not Baunsgard’s only humanitarian effort. He and his wife currently sponsor 10 children, nine in Africa and one in Peru. In 2006, he had the opportunity to meet Godfrey, a child he sponsors in Uganda. Godfrey’s mother had just had a new little girl—and she asked Baunsgard to name her. He called her Trinity after his own daughter.
The money that Baunsgard hopes to raise will go a long way in Uganda and other places. Part of the proceeds will fund malaria nets for World Vision and hostels in Myanmar (Burma). If the yard sale is successful, $10,000 of the money will go toward drilling wells via Wright’s Planet Changer.
According to Corrin Douglass, director of operations at the nonprofit, the money can bring wells to 10 different communities in the Tororo district of Uganda, their area of focus.
Each community ranges from 400 to 800 members, and several have schools and trading systems with neighboring areas. If the fundraising goal is reached, 10 communities will no longer fetch water from mud holes but will get it pumped from clean wells.
“We don’t see ourselves as a charity, but as partners to help change their lives,” Douglass said.
Planet Changer “fills in the gaps” of the Ugandans’ resources by buying materials and paying Ugandan masons for building wells. Ugandan community members clear the land ahead of time and provide locally available materials such as sand.
Baunsgard hopes to travel to the communities he is helping.
“My goal within the next five years is to go to Uganda to visit some of these wells that will have been drilled and meet the villagers whose lives have been changed,” he said.
Over the past months, Baunsgard has juggled the yard sale with his job as a manager at the Issaquah QFC.
Since he started collecting items, he has rented moving trucks as often as three times a week to pick up donations that include antiques – such as a 1946 upright piano – kitchen appliances and vintage sports equipment. Items have come from as far away as Kirkland and Maple Valley.
Though the job is big, the result is worth it.
“The motivation behind it is what keeps me going,” he said. “I started to get really emotional in realizing that this can save lots and lots of lives. Having been in Africa and looked into these children’s eyes, it’s very easy to keep going.”
Because of the volume of items for the sale, Baunsgard anticipates it will take a full day to set up. To help, call him at 590-7615.
If you go
• July 26 to July 28, 2013
• Opens at 9 a.m. every day
• Sneak Peek: 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. July 26 for a $5 entry fee
• North Bend Elementary School, 400 E. 3rd St., North Bend
• Call 425-590-7615 if you have questions or want to volunteer