August 28th. Saturday morning, 7am, Peace Square. A group of early birds gather outside the MCDonalds. They carry bags and boxes and are in good spirits.
Ten of us pile into the car we rented and make for the road. First stop, Olympic square to pick up Rinko, our intern who has been greatly helping us in the Focus office for the last month.
Then we head straight for our destination, the Tong Ligong Community Center, for the second Fund-Raiser Community Sale, organised by the Dalian League Of Volunteers or short: D-LOV and the Tong Ligong Community Center.
Appropriately our car is packed with volunteers. When we get there things have already taken shape. In the front yard of the impressive Tong Ligong Center there are tables, marquises, and piles of different goods:
lots of clothes, children's toys, household appliances, books and many other things. Quickly the volunteers get started and arrange everything nicely, lay out the clothes and distribute the other things according to different price categories.
Before we know it, the opening ceremony begins and very quickly the tables are surrounded by crowds of people looking for bargains.
I spotted a toaster which I decide to purchase on the spot, before anybody else sees it. Rinko finds a toy aeroplane and a children's book which she gets for her little brother.
By 10 o'clock the sale is in full swing and new revellers keep appearing - a very mixed audience. The All's Well cafe from round the corner supply us with sandwiches, cakes and coffee, the Labour Park based Eurobake offers their palette, including their yummy oat biscuits, next to them, Kaifaqu based Harbour Deli whose sandwiches look and taste amazing.
Focus has a small table where we offer the current issue of the Focus on Dalian magazine as well as our traveller’s guide to Dalian and other publications. Opposite of us Chinese artisans have a table where they show us paintings, paper cuttings and how to make Chinese knots. For the kids there is face painting and a daring entertainer whose name I forgot (or never asked) juggles and rides around the place on his unicycle. The atmosphere is lovely and for the first time in Dalian I feel how I haven’t felt since leaving England: At home. I remember the feeling I used to get in the charity shops, at car-boot sales and at the community crafts fairs which are so common in the UK.
Being the second community sale the D-LOV organised (the first one was June the 1st), it is surely a success. Loads of people showed up and many found great things for themselves or as gifts for others. I met some of the people I had long heard about, but never met, and also many old friends.
The Tong Ligong Community Center liked it, too and the next sale is planned for October.
If you want to get involved with D-LOV, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tong Ligong Women’s and Children’s Community Center is based in Kaifaqu
Address: Cuinan 4 Xiaoqu 翠南4，小区， 童丽宫, 开发区
Contact: Miss Yu Xiuli 于秀丽 Mobile 139-4082-2622, office 8762-4037