PEO Sisterhood: a Tree Streets yard sale staple

Hannah Swayze • Sep 5, 2018 at 7:53 PM

Three days before the giant community yard sale in the historic Tree Streets in Johnson City, one house on West Maple Street is bustling with women.

The work started four days ago. Hardly any other houses have began to set up, but in the early hours, members of a Johnson City Chapter of PEO are hauling in boxes and and setting up the yard to be taken over by one man’s junk hopefully becoming someone else’s treasure. 

“PEO stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization and it is an international organization that provides scholarships for women to go back to school and there are chapters all over the U.S. and Canada and for more than 20 years we’ve been having a fundraiser at the Tree Streets Yard Sale,” said Susan Mitchell, local evening chapter member. 

Mitchell carried various yard sale items in her hands and a roll of tape for pricing. About eight women moved in and out of the house. A couple of them stayed on the front porch, unpacking boxes and setting up delicate glass bowls and cups and whatever else was around. Others help unload cars that would pull up with more items.

Everywhere you look there is something interesting to look at. Monkey candle sticks, a small elephant piggy bank and a “redneck wind chime,” made with tin cans painted red white and blue are just a few things that stuck out.

“This is a yard sale on steroids,” Mitchell said. 

The “PEO Sisterhood,” as their bright yellow sign reads, has been setting up for the Tree Streets Yard Sale for a little over 20 years. It is the only fundraiser the local chapter does throughout the year, along with monthly meetings and thrice-a-year social gatherings. They have 60 members local and about 45 that work in shifts to set up and then work the sale.

The sale itself, Mitchell said, gets really busy with everyone running around in the heat in the cramped space. 

“It’s crazy,” Mitchell said. “Everyone is running around and were trying to make everybody happy and we like to make a profit but we also like to provide someone with something they need. There’s a lot of bargaining. Lots and lots of bargaining.”

Since everyone is a volunteer, every penny of the sale goes toward scholarships. Mitchell says they give out five to six locally each year around the beginning of the semester. They just gave away two for the fall semester, one for $3,000 and one for $2,200. 

‘’That’s what PEO is all about: women helping women. Because we feel like if a woman is educated her whole family can be changed,” Mitchell said.

The PEO Sisterhood’s yard sale can be found on West Maple Street Friday morning for early shopping and during the actual sale on Saturday. To learn more about PEO, visit their website at https://www.peointernational.org/. 



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