The River Parishes’ biggest garage sale is back: More than $40K already raised for cancer patients

Published 9:02 pm Friday, June 5, 2020

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LAPLACE —The biggest garage sale in the River Parishes is open once again, and it has already raised more than $40,000 to benefit active cancer patients in the River Parishes and beyond.

Local nonprofit group Perry’s Posse intends to raise $60,000 before the garage sale closes on June 28. All proceeds will contribute to financial and spiritual gifts for patients currently undergoing cancer treatment.

The garage sale is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 1414 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace, next to Planet Fitness in the Riverlands Shopping Center. The fundraiser was initially slated to open and close in March, until the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in the plans. Quitting is not an option for Perry’s Posse, and they are keeping their greatest fundraising effort alive with new safety precautions.

Doors opened to the public on June 1. Only 30 individuals are allowed to shop at any given time in order to promote social distancing. Facemasks are mandatory, even for children, and shopping carts are cleaned after each use.

To close out the month, all items will be sold at half price on Friday, June 26. Shoppers can fill an entire shopping cart for $20 on Saturday, June 27, or for $10 on Sunday, June 28.

Perry’s Posse has been holding large-scale garage sales with community donations for the past several years. They surpassed $40,000 in sales for the first time in spring 2019, and Perry’s Posse founder Tanya Roccaforte is setting the bar even higher this time.

There are plenty of special deals to find this month at the Perry’s Posse garage sale.

The cause is especially important to Roccaforte because her godson, Perry Levet, passed away from cancer in 2014. Before his passing, he asked her to create an organization to support cancer patients in need.

Since the beginning of 2020, Perry’s Posse has welcomed 42 new patients, bringing the total number of active patients to 155. The initiative started in the River Parishes and had since extended throughout the country.

“Now we are nationwide because of all the donations coming in,” Roccaforte said. “We have a lot of family and friends that live out of state. When they tell us people need help, we aren’t going to tell them no. All of the money we raise goes to the cancer patients. At the end of every year, we try to deplete most of the donations and start fresh the following year.”

The initial package cancer patients get from Perry’s Posse includes a monetary gift, a spiritual book, a F.R.O.G. pin reminding patients to “Fully Rely on God,” an informational pamphlet and an encouraging letter.

Patients continue to receive monetary gifts for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every month, Perry’s Posse draws 10 names to award monetary gifts.

“They get to use the monetary gifts as they see fit,” Roccaforte said. “Sometimes they might use it for food, or they might use it for medicine. When someone donates something like a gift certificate, we pull a name and a patient gets it.”

Roccaforte said the community support is beyond compare.

Local industry partners have banded around Perry’s Posse. Former patients who have passed on have requested donations in lieu of flowers for their funerals. People have hosted fundraisers out of state, and strangers met on cruise ships have become dedicated donors to the cause.

Last year, Perry’s Posse hosted its first Meet-and-Greet for patients. The event was a great success, and it will be held again when it is safe for high-risk individuals to gather.

Perry’s Posse has additionally participated in cancer support groups hosted in St. John the Baptist Parish churches. Even if a patient is alone in a hospital room, a listening ear is only a phone call away. Patients become part of the Perry’s Posse family, embraced with love and empathy.

“It’s really fun. It’s so rewarding,” Roccaforte said. “We’ll sit down and have meetings, and sometimes we’ll just cry because we’re so overwhelmed about it. We have truly been blessed.”

Approximately 50 to 100 shoppers have come through the garage sale each day it has been open. Inside, they explore a vast collection of couches, recliners, bedroom sets, mattresses, home décor, jewelry, appliances, kitchenware, children’s items and much more.

“Anything you need in your house, we have,” Roccaforte said.

Perry’s Posse member Tanya Clement and her husband traveled from Hammond to volunteer at the garage sale. Clement said the fundraiser opened with a bang, and it’s rewarding to see how much the community cares.

After Clement joined Perry’s Posse, she helped her mother navigate a battle with kidney cancer. At 89 years old, her mother has now been cancer-free for four years.

“It’s awesome knowing that everything goes to the cancer patients,” Clement said. “We don’t make a dime. There’s this outpouring of people who bring us furniture and donations. You can look around and see some of this stuff could have easily been sold by them, but instead they donate it to us.”

Clement said the garage sale is beneficial not only for cancer patients, but also for those who have been hit with financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are things here that can help people shopping for college students or trying to furnish their home,” Clement said. “You can mix and match glasses and mugs, 10 for $1. You can’t go to the store for things like that.”