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Staff Photo/Bob Coupland Howland resident Mary Raeburn, 77, has coordinated the annual garage sale at Howland United Methodist Church for 36 years.

HOWLAND — For years, people have asked Howland resident Mary Raeburn when the annual Howland United Methodist Church garage sale is going to be.

Raeburn was the right person to ask as she coordinated it for 36 years, with the first year event raising $1,200 and the 2019 event raising $30,000.

“The sale has become bigger and bigger” she says.

The sale is the primary fundraiser for the church.

“It was a success because we have a congregation that really cares about the people in our community. People tell me they can’t wait for the sale and say they buy kids clothes here. People in the church give and give,” said Raeburn.

Raeburn, a member of the church for 50 years, said more than 36 years ago she participated in a ways and means committee, suggesting that they organize a garage sale.

She said the yard sale includes a wide range of items, including clothing, cars, boats, a motorhome and everyday household items. The event takes weeks to prepare and set up.

“We help bring the donated items and then on the days of the sale help people load them into the cars. Sometimes we deliver items such as furniture,” said Raeburn.

The money is used to help the church and has helped with recent additions to the building.

This year’s sale is July 22-23.


She was also involved for 21 years as a Sunday school teacher. It started because his own children were present.

“I enjoyed it so much and the kids seemed to like me” she says.

Raeburn has been part of Soup for Shut Ins, delivering soup weekly to housebound members. She said it’s a way to reach out to members unable to attend in person.

“They enjoyed the visits and felt people cared about them,” she says.

She also helps out at the soup kitchen and the thrift store in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul once a week.

“The thrift store is like a big garage sale, and I’m known for garage sales,” she says.

While the coronavirus pandemic prevented many religious events from happening, Raeburn drove members to doctor’s appointments and other locations.

Raeburn and her late husband, Duane, also led summer church services at Ridge Ranch Campground in Windham.

“It was three months in the summer for people who wanted to go to church and didn’t want to drive home, so we decided to hold services,” she says.

She said she told her children that God was on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that we could give him an hour or two a week.

“I like getting involved and meeting people. I love all of that.” she says.

Raeburn is also a volunteer on Election Day, getting up early that day and checking that people are voting,

“You really get to know your neighbors and meet people. I did this for 22 years and was at Howland Glen School and Living Lord Lutheran Church. We worked from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. We checked to see if they were registered and gave them a ballot. I could see people from the surrounding streets where I lived. We had to bring the voting machines back to the election office. It became easier because we had few computers in recent years,” said Raeburn.

She has two children and four grandchildren. Raeburn said his kids come home from other states and help him organize the church yard sale.

Raeburn used to teach English to Central and South American elementary school children attending Howland schools.

“There were a lot of photos and tallies. A lot of them had parents who worked at Packard who transferred here so they didn’t speak English. It was fun working with them,” she says.

In her free time, Raeburn enjoys traveling and gardening and working in her yard.

She said her two children live in Colorado and California and visiting them and her four grandchildren is what she loves the most.

“I see them four or five times a year”, she says.

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