J.J.’s flea market benefits homeless kids
Proceeds to buy Christmas gifts for children in shelter
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By Natalie Gray  September 13, 2013 12:00 am

Janice Jordan, known affectionately as J.J. by her friends, fellow volunteers and charity workers, claims to have been donating her time, efforts and dedication to her community for more than 20 years.

Her most recent and main charity began last weekend in the form of a local flea market in the 49 Pet and Anna’s Thrift Store parking lot at the Southwest Shopping Plaza. According to Jordan, this is her third year appearing at the Rohnert Park parking lot for the flea market, which, from its start four years ago, has become an annual event. This sale is the first of three she has planned for the next few months, ending just in time for Christmas.

“I don’t have money,” said Jordan, “I have time…I like to give back to the community.”

The market is meant to raise money for Jordan’s charity of choice, the Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa. The efforts are being made so that Jordan can buy gifts for the children currently living in the Catholic Charities Homeless Shelter. According to Jordan, there were 66 children living in the shelter last two Christmases and, the year before, 75 children. The goal this year is to raise $1,500 so she can prepare, she hopes, at least $20 gifts per child at the shelter this year.

“It makes all of our hearts smile,” said Jordan of the charity and, more importantly, the moment she and her fellow volunteers hand over the gifts to the children of the shelter.

The gift drive began Sept. 6 in the 49 Pet parking lot. There, she stationed herself before her friend’s thrift store, Anna’s Thrift Store, for the next three days. She brought her RV to stay in so she could keep a watchful eye over the merchandise and the market through the entirety of the three days.

The flea market was, and always has been, created from a collection of donations and personal sales from individuals who paid a small fee to sell their belongings at the market. Their payments, as well as the sales made off donations, go straight to the gift fund.

There was an array of donated household items for sale at Jordan’s market. Pushed to the side of the market and encompassing its own block of shade where Jordan and her fellow volunteers could take refuge from the glaring sun were tall shelves stuffed with books of every genre. There was a collection of chairs, wood-frame mirrors, rocking chairs, kitchen tables and even a fully functioning washing machine.

Scattered about the market were toys, some still in their boxes and some with the signs of loving use rubbed into their plastic faces. There were earrings and necklaces, “Harry Potter” audio books and racks of gently used clothing. And, sitting in the center of the main table, a large, chalice-like glass was a donation bin stuffed with money to go straight towards the gift fund.

She said to have many people walk by and simply donate a sum of cash to the bowl, purely out of the desire to help and respect for the fundraiser. According to Jordan, she has no doubt she will reach her $1,500 goal.

Jordan has two other similar fundraisers planned to help raise money for the Christmas gifts.  Though she does not have it yet, she knows Catholic Charities will give her a list of names and ages of the children she will shop for this year, a first since the time she began the drive. She plans to, as she does every year, have a small wrapping party, hopefully with her fellow helpers Patricia Gomez and Suzanne Venezio, two younger girls she considers family friends and granddaughters.

Jordan said she wanted to thank Ralf Geissler, owner of the Southwest Plaza parking lot, where Jordan’s flea market has appeared for the past few years. She plans to have another market there before the Christmas shopping. 

To get involved in the fundraiser, Jordan suggests one call Anna’s Thrift Store to leave donations or further instructions at (707) 921-8965. 

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