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Back to the Haak

Sale behind the Haak to benefit Lift

By Becca Robb | Echo 

Last year’s sale raised $2,600, which is almost enough to sponsor two kids to attend Lift.

Last year’s sale raised $2,600, which is almost enough to sponsor two kids to attend Lift.

Bring them your mugs, your lamps, your dusty paintings yearning to breathe free.

Next Saturday, the Haak is hosting a sale to benefit Lift, a local organization that works to enrich the lives of students at Eastbrook South.

Senior Sarah McLeester was a Village Tree member when she organized the first Back of the Haak Sale last year. She and the other members noticed that people were throwing away a lot of items that other people may have been able to use.

“(We wondered,) ‘What if we had a sale to save the stuff being thrown away and to give people a chance to buy it and not just trash it,’” McLeester said.

The sale is by donation only, so people can give as much or as little as they can afford. Last year’s sale raised $2,600, which is almost enough to sponsor two kids to attend Lift for an entire year.

Director Dianne Biehl, along with community member Lisa Sells, founded Lift in 2014. She said Eastbrook South reached out to her and then she asked several community members to get on board. Over 60 volunteers—including professors, Taylor students and other community members—are working with the 26 kids enrolled in Lift this semester.

Lift’s goal is to invest in the same kids each year as they move up in grades. Biehl hopes to teach kids to love reading and to be each other’s advocates, especially for those who have limited positive exposure to literacy.

“There are more and more vulnerable children in Grant County,” Biehl said.

On a typical afternoon in Lift, kids are greeted with a snack at Upland Community Church. Biehl likes to offer healthier options such as English muffin pizzas and grapes in order to show kids that healthy foods can be tasty and fun. Snacks are served family-style, with kids waiting for everyone to be ready before anyone takes their first bite.

After snack time, kids have an hour of free time in the gym. Later, they break off into two groups to practice reading or work on a reading-related activity. Volunteers lead a musical worship time and sometimes share a mini-sermon.

Freshman Lift volunteer Lainie Gegner said she thinks Lift is unique because it aims to boost kids both spiritually and academically. She said she’s seen a big difference in the kids who are enrolled.

“One of the little girls looked at me and patted her heart and said, ‘I feel Jesus right here,’” Gegner said.

Lift meets Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 2:45 to 5:30 p.m. at Upland Community Church. Donations for the sale can be dropped off in boxes in the dorms or at the Haak. The sale will open behind the Haak on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Questions about Lift can be directed to Dianne Biehl at

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