Weekend garage sales fund help at home
Frank Slove, the founder of American Aid Foundation, hands out some popcorn after helping customers at their fundraising garage sale in Buffalo Grove Saturda. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
The American Aid Foundation, which specializes in programs serving veterans and disabled children, has begun a series of garage sale fundraisers that they expect to continue through the fall.
• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday at Frank Slove’s house, 20666 N. Margaret Ave.
• The current collection includes toys, clothes, knick-knacks, school supplies and free popcorn for any shopper.
• Visit AmericanAidFoundation.org for more information
Updated: September 10, 2012 6:15AM
One Buffalo Grove resident and habitual volunteer wanted to get closer to the front lines of non-profit work — so he is bringing the front line into his garage.
Frank Slove has founded a handful of community organizations in his life, but in many of those instances, the nature of the work was to serve the less-fortunate or disaster-struck in distant places. In recent years, his heart and mind have been closer to his home, so his latest project — the American Aid Foundation — is focusing on the northwest suburbs.
And it is funded in his driveway. Through the rest of the summer and the fall, the AAF will hold garage sales every weekend, in Slove’s garage, to raise money for its upcoming efforts.
“A lot of the time you’re raising money, you’re not actually at the end result of what you’re doing,” Slove said Aug. 2, about 36 hours before the AAF’s first garage sale opened to the public. “I like to be involved with the people. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than to be there, to hand somebody a towel or some food, to help them get back on their feet.”
Despite starting at an odd time (the middle of the summer), Slove said Monday that the fundraising effort got off to a strong start, with 300 shoppers visiting his front yard. He said he had not yet counted the AAF’s take from the first weekend.
“The heat and humidity were pretty bad the first day, but on Sunday the weather was beautiful,” he said. “It’ll be a work in progress.”
The foundation has two ongoing projects this summer, Slove said:
• Homeless Comfort & Care, which specializes in helping homeless veterans get their lives in order.
“When you hear that there’s homeless veterans on the streets, for me, that just angers me to no end,” Slove said. “It’s outrageous, in this country, that we have homelessness in general, but to have homeless veterans, I’d like to eradicate that.”
• Mobile Theater Unit, which gives the mentally disabled boys and girls at the Maryville Academy in Des Plaines the chance to watch a film projected onto a large screen, along with free popcorn and baked goods donated to the AAF by local vendors. John Gorman, Maryville’s communications director, said Slove’s group has been serving their wards for more than four years.
“We really appreciate his work,” Gorman said Monday. “It provides entertainment and socialization for our kids. Most of them were in families that couldn’t handle them. They’ve had harsh backgrounds, where many of them would never have had this kind of opportunity.”
Slove said he hopes to expand the movie-theater experience, bringing it to hospitals for both children and veterans to enjoy. To do that, though, the foundation will need better speakers and amplifiers and a truck to haul the equipment in.
“People may not get how important it can be to people in need,” he said.
“We’ll bring that whole theater experience, and let them escape from the problems they’re going through for two or three hours,” he added. “It doesn’t take much to put a smile on a child’s face.”
Slove said he started learning that when he was a child himself: His mother volunteered with the Lions Club, and his father had several philanthropic activities as well.
“It was just something that was instilled in me by my parents,” he said.
Slove’s volunteer efforts have included the United Relief Foundation, a Mount Prospect-based organization that he helped found with other partners after Hurricane Katrina blasted New Orleans and the Gulf coast. There is a lot of space between Chicagoland and the South, though, and Slove started wanting to serve the needs he saw right around him.
So in 2009, he founded the AAF, intent on meeting local needs. The group has about 25 volunteers today, he said, and keeps its budget slim by operating from his house.
“Why should we go and waste money on an office?” he said.
The AAF is accepting more donations, he said, and looking for a benefactor willing to donate a storefront for the chilly fall, winter and spring weekends coming.
Until then, though, the group will keep operating every Saturday and Sunday from Slove’s garage. He stressed that they have room to grow.
“The driveway is pretty long.”