For the past four months, Carol Lucas and her band of volunteers have been taking what others discard and beautifully transforming it into stuff we’ll gladly pay for.

An old worn-out piano is now a table, for instance, and a baby crib has a new life as a bench. Some polishing and other touchups have been added to an African-themed chair that even Lucas threatens to keep.

She won’t do that because all of the money garnered from the sale of these items will go to CommunityWorx projects here in Blount County. Lucas is founder of the nonprofit that seeks to help community members through programs that target unmet needs.

So the sale will go on, billed as the Annual Bazaar Fundraiser. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Victory Baptist Church, 1025 Montvale Station Road, Maryville.

For those who can’t wait until that morning, there will be a sneak peak, from 7-8 p.m. on that Friday, Aug. 23. That will cost early bird shoppers $5. The Saturday event is free to attend.

It’s a good thing Lucas lives in a home with a huge basement. That’s where the newly crafted and repurposed items are kept until sale time.

Take a look around and you’ll see lots of barn wood, donated to CommunityWorx.

That wood has been used to make home-decor items like candle holders and door ornaments. Jar lids are never discarded, nor is ribbon or furniture pieces.

Lucas’ brother, Mike Dunn, has a special talent to blend up something totally new out of what had been on its way to the dump.

A little sanding, staining and polishing can do wonders, Lucas said.

This is the third year for the annual event. CommunityWorx applied for incorporation with the state of Tennessee in 2017 and was approved as a nonprofit in 2018.

But Lucas and some of the other volunteers helped start Reaching Our Community back in 2004 at Maryville First Baptist Church.

The funds raised at the Annual Bazaar Fundraiser will go to support CommunityWorx’s five programs:

• Volunteer Work Days are coordinated to assist local agencies and families with needs such as painting, home repair, indoor cleaning, landscaping, ramp building and writing letters. The work days are held in spring.

• Firewood Ministry splits, stores and delivers firewood to families in need who use fire as their source of heat.

• Christmas Wishes partners with the Family Resource Centers of Alcoa, Blount County and Maryville to provide Christmas for 500 children. Parents or guardians complete wish lists and CommunityWorx partners with local churches, businesses and individuals to find sponsors for the gifts.

Celebration parties are held at five local churches.

• Gap is a program that helps people with needs that aren’t being met elsewhere. That might include uniforms for a new job, auto parts, gas for medical appointments or heaters and fans.

• ChaMP is CommunityWorx’s newest program and hasn’t been fully launched. It is a program called Changing Maladaptive Patterns and is geared toward middle schoolers dealing with trauma. Referrals will be taken from school counselors.

A lot of work goes into hosting an event like this, but a lot of good comes from it. Lucas said it has been neat to see how all of the volunteers come together to share their talents. Many have been showing up at Lucas’ home every week now for months.

Emily Byrd is the coordinator for the Crafting for a Cause. Gary and Wanda Springsdorf have been dedicated volunteers over the years. Sylvia Roca is here when the call comes out. So are many others.

“It is amazing to see how all of this comes together,” Lucas said. “I look back on it and can never explain how this all happens. It has to be God. There is no way physically that we can get some of these things done. Or emotionally. This is one of those good stressors, but it is mentally draining.”

Antique stores, thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales — this group of volunteers has its eyes open. It’s all about the transformation — in the initial products they find and the lives touched, they will tell you.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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