Milton couple hunts bargains for Romanian mission trips
May 9, 2014
By CAROLYN NICHOLS
Florida Baptist Witness

SPECIAL GIFTS Girls in Romania show off their new gloves that were gifts from last year’s Romanian American Mission. Courtesy photo

MILTON (FBW)—In a few weeks, Lamar and Sissy Faulkner and three other members of First Baptist Church in Milton will travel to Negresti, Romania, to work in medical clinics. They will take with them gifts for the patients that are the result of a year-long bargain-hunting adventure.

The Faulkners are regular shoppers at every thrift store between the Florida Panhandle and Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Sissy Faulkner’s 96-year-old mother resides. They are always on the lookout for bargains on fabric, personal hygiene items, and items of clothing appropriate for gift bags.

“The thrill is finding bargains and knowing what the result will be—seeing God’s hand in it,” Lamar Faulkner said. “It’s like investing. You won’t get that kind of yield anywhere else.”

Sissy Faulkner, who, according to her husband, “can make the most out of the least as anybody I know,” keeps her eye out for bargains on fabric. She often finds coordinating fabrics on sale tables in two different stores, and sometimes the fabric is four yards for $1.49. In another section of the store she searches the bargain linens for king-sized sheets. Recent purchases included fabrics in the same tone of orange, and a sheet that matched them all.

A card telling patients that gifts are from First Baptist Church in Milton, and John 3:16, is included in each gift bag. Photo by Carolyn Nichols

The fabric returns to Milton to seamstresses who fashion aprons and scarves. Pillow cases can become children’s dresses in their hands.

“Ladies just love to do this. I’ve had people who I don’t know say, ‘I hear you’re making aprons. Why don’t you send me fabric for 10?’ You’d be surprised how many people work to do all this,” Sissy Faulkner said.

Ladies in Romania share a love for sewing, so personal sewing kits are among the favorite give-away items. First Baptist’s widows’ group, under the leadership of Janet Preston, assembles hundreds of kits annually, and Sissy Faulkner’s mother transfers thread from large spools to small cards for the kits.

The Faulkners revel in their bargain-hunting victories. Lamar Faulkner asks, “We hit something big in Long Beach, didn’t we, Sissy?” She answers, “It was the gloves, I think.” They discovered children’s gloves at a 

bargain price, and bought 170 pair. A special promotion then rewarded them with $10 gift cards after their purchase. When a fellow shopper found out what they were doing, she donated $10.

SENDING LOVE Sissy Faulkner, above, from First Baptist Church in Milton looks over the suitcase full of gloves that will go to Negresti, Romania, in June. Photo by Carolyn Nichols

Among the items in gift bags this June will be 0.85-ounce tubes of toothpaste that normally sell for 55 cents. The Faulkners found the personal-sized tubes in a store in Atmore, Ala., for 19 cents, and counted out 300 tubes. They found out at checkout it was “Old Folks Day, and we got 10 percent off the total.” They got to the car and decided they could not leave any behind, so they went back and bought another 450 tubes. 

On the same trip, they found the same product at a store in Brewton, Ala. The price was 10 cents, but the cashier soon offered the entire bin for $3. At the checkout, there was an automatic 20 percent discount on their haul of 595 tubes. The price of the 1,000 tubes that will go to Negresti worked out to be less than a half cent per tube, he said.

“Sometimes we just have to laugh about it because we know God is in it,” Sissy Faulkner said.

During the 2013 trip organized by Romanian American Mission based in Decatur, Ala., medical personnel saw 982 patients in five clinics in four days. The clinics were located in churches, schools or outside surrounded by curtains. Children are taught Bible stories under the trees.

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