Free 'non-garage' sale for fire victims to be held in Santa Rosa

Saturday promises to be a big garage sale day in Santa Rosa, but for fire survivors, no cash required.

Hundreds of households are cleaning out their clutter, and making it available to victims of the October firestorm, for free.

"We all have about a hundred wine glasses or coffee cups," said organizer Diane Madera, at home in the SRJC area, where most of the garage "non-sales" are clustered. 

Madera was combing through kitchen drawers and cabinets Friday evening, snagging for any spare items she could offer. 

"I've got cookbooks, children's books, glass bowls, utensils," she itemized, "and my idea was to cleanse my house, so I hope people pick up on this."  

Across Santa Rosa, households have picked up on Madera's idea, and on some sixty streets, people will be hosting giveaways for fire survivors Saturday from 9am- 2pm. 

For more than a month, stories from those who lost everything, have left a powerful impression. 

"This is winter, this is devastation," said Gena Jacob, whose Coffey Park home was leveled.

"This is the only home my daughter knows, and we lived here for eighteen years"
Jacobs, like many homeowners, has insurance helping to replace possessions.

But Madera figures victims who were under-insured or uninsured are struggling to purchase basics, and besides, nothing beats "free." 

"I started thinking, what do we really need? I mean my rafters were full," said Madera, looking into her garage stuffed with items for the non-sale.

"I decided I'm getting rid of everything except what I use, from now on!"

From carpeting to coffee pots, it's going to the front yard Saturday morning.  

"Suitcases, ice chests, pillows, fine china, toys," Madera pointed out, "and there's more that other people brought me."

Her driveway filled up Friday with donations from strangers who found out what she was doing, and drove to her house, one woman coming from Lafayette with a car-load. 

"We'll try to make sure it's the fire survivors who are getting the things," said Madera, admitting there's no way to really vet the shoppers to make sure they're from the fire zones. 

"But you can kind of tell, " she said," because there's definitely a sadness to them."  
She hopes the shoppers come away with more than material goods. 

"Everybody has their story still, and we want to be able to talk to the people and hug them." 

Madera plans to orchestrate another "non sale" in the spring when more victims have transitioned to living space where they can use furniture and housewares.

The Facebook page "Santa Rosa Firestorm Update" has current posts on garage sale locations.