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Mary Grove has rummage sale planning down to a science

May 04, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Mary Grove

Age - 50.

Occupation - School secretary at St. Maria Goretti High School.

Hometown - Hagerstown.

Where would you see Grove? - For 17 years, Grove's personal calendar has revolved around the twice-yearly St. Mary's School Rummage Sale. The first time she volunteered to help, her oldest son was in kindergarten. This year, her youngest son will graduate from St. Maria Goretti High School.

When word spread that the event coordinator was looking for a replacement, Grove offered to take the job. She continues to organize the event, even though it's been years since her sons were students at the school.

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Not only does Grove organize the spring and fall sales - always held the first Thursday of May and October - she also contributes to it. A little spring cleaning at her home has resulted in a minivan full of used items to be sold.

With years of experience to her name, Grove said she has the planning down to a science, even though she's never had a yard sale of her own and doesn't go to yard sales. She is quick to show off the purse she bought at a previous sale for 50 cents and said she was excited to find eight more pieces of the crystal stemware she and her husband received as a wedding gift.

The donated items begin to pour in the day before the sale, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. With limited storage, Grove said that's the only way to do it.

"Most comes in Wednesday and is hopefully gone by Thursday or Friday," Grove said of the items donated for the sale.

Grove is dependent on volunteers who sort and price items for each department - clothing, household goods, toys and so on.

She marvels at how much "stuff" school parents and people in the community rustle up for each sale. The sale, set for today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., raises an average of $5,000 for the school.

"A lot of people know it's coming. They look forward to it," said Grove, who lives on South Potomac Street. "You'd be amazed. It's something everyone should see."

She said the hardest part of her job is arranging to get rid of what doesn't sell. After 1 p.m. on sale day, customers can fill a bag for $2.

Many will recognize Grove from the Dual Highway McDonald's, where she worked for 25 years. The 1973 North Hagerstown High School graduate started working there as a high school student when the restaurant first opened.

She continued to work there after marrying Woody Grove, a North High teacher. After their first child was 6 months old, Mary Grove just worked summers, while her husband was off, then worked part-time when her sons were in school.

She got her job at St. Maria Goretti after substituting in that position. The job was offered to Grove when the secretary decided not to return from maternity leave.

Hobbies - Grove used to take aerobics and said she plans to make the most of her and her husband's "empty nest" with a goal of becoming more physically fit.

What does Grove like best about Washington County? - "I think there's a real sense of community and family," she said. "Most people are friends and want to see each other do well."

Grove enjoys the changing seasons, the low crime rate and said Washington County is a good place to raise kids.

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