More than 30 years ago, Jean Grabow began our Bower Hill Flea Market tradition—originally held in the Chapel—and she ran it for 21 years!! From the beginning, people would wait all year for the Saturday before Thanksgiving to see the quality items that the members of Bower Hill donated. Over the years, most of the proceeds went to Buildings and Grounds. It is probable that the largest project where proceeds were dispersed was the remodel of the handicap bathroom next to the kitchen. Even after Jean retired from running the flea market, she priced the jewelry for another 5+ years. Flash forward to 2017—our flea market had an AMAZING year. We made more than usual in the spring (a little over $4,500), and more than $5,500 was made in the fall!! This is the most ever made at the flea market, and the third year in a row that the fall flea market made more than $5,000. In addition, the most we have ever made in a year from the flea market was over $8,000. This year we surpassed $10,000!! I am overwhelmed by the support the Bower Hill congregation has shown for the flea market over the years and particularly in 2017. Each time a call goes out for help (i.e., let’s have an extra room for toys—that means more cashiers; let’s offer homemade soup in the snack bar—that means we need people to make it), you have responded beyond our wildest expectations. This year we made two pleas for extra help—1) there was too much stuff to unpack in a day, so we planned for two days to unpack and had a great turnout and, 2) the call for extra bakers due to early sell-out of the goodies was answered by our Bower Hill supporters!! As you know, I like to tell at least one story about something exciting that happened either at the flea market or because of the flea market, and I’m really pleased to share this one with you. You’re probably aware that after the flea market is over, most of what is left gets boxed up for the next flea market. Before we start packing up, we go through everything and donate some items to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (after the fall flea market, we donated two carloads to St. de Paul’s). The books always seem problematic, though. In the past we’ve given them to Mt. Lebanon library, but they’ll only take a few boxes at a time. Also, we always felt that we’d like to see the books go somewhere that would benefit people who don’t have as much access to books as the patrons of the library bookstore. As often happens, while we were unpacking, the topic of what to do with the books came up and Nancy Green mentioned an article that she read about prisoners wanting books, particularly Bibles. That idea really intrigued me, and I told Nancy I would definitely look into it after the flea market was over. Turns out I didn’t have to. The day of the flea market, a gentleman named Nick gave my dad his card and said he works with a group that collects books and gives them to a variety of charities. They pick up the books and figure out which books would be most appropriate for which charity. The best part: one of the charities they take the books to is Bookern, a books for prisoners program! Sadly, Jean Grabow passed away recently. Fittingly, it happened on the day of our fall flea market. I’d like to say one last thank you to Jean for starting off and keeping up a great tradition at Bower Hill. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all who have helped the flea market keep growing and outshining its own success year after year.