Emma Thomson Feige has volunteered at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church Harvest Fair nearly half her life.
At 28, she has pitched in at the annual fundraiser for 13 years, and, shortly before her marriage to Carl Feige three years ago, Emma encouraged him to join the fray.
It’s turned into a passion for the couple.
“It’s a great feeling,” Carl said. “There’s satisfaction in the feeling you’ve done good.”
The Harvest Fair began more than 60 years ago and is the church’s primary fundraiser, bringing in more than $75,000 during the weekend sale each September.
Proceeds are doled out to local charities like Sharpsburg food pantry, Hosanna Industries and East Liberty Family Health Center. Money also is donated to overseas missions.
“It’s fulfilling just knowing you’ve changed someone’s life or helped the community,” Emma said.
As a child, Carl attended preschool at the church. Likewise, Emma made her communion there. And the couple was married there.
They believe that supporting the future of the church means putting in the time now.
The couple said raising money is the obvious benefit of the event, but Carl said shoppers have it good, too.
Carl said there is an opportunity to find inexpensive necessities for young couples just starting out. From furniture to jewelry and sports equipment, there are more than a dozen church rooms brimming with treasures.
The pair enjoys interacting with the other volunteers, they said. They’ve joined veteran committee members Gwen Zaleski, Carol Huff and Sue Patrick, all who lead by example.
The young couple jokes that they bring down the average age “a bit.”
Helping others isn’t something left for retirees, the couple said. They see it as an opportunity for anyone willing to give their time.
The Harvest Fair accepts donations every morning except Sunday.
Emma spends Friday and Saturday mornings sorting the new and used donated goods while Carl is on the pick-up shift and collects large items like sofas and bedroom furniture from donors.
There is a fee for the door-to-door service with the funds going into the kitty.
With two months to go until the big event, volunteers are still needed.
Crunch time is the week leading into the fair, or “move-up days,” when everything sorted and tightly packed in storage is moved into almost every section of the church facility.
This year’s move starts Sept. 22, just five days before the Friday night Harvest Fair preview sale.
For the Feiges, that week is a nonstop whirl.
“It’s amazing and rewarding as everything comes together,” Emma said.