Garage Sale Tithe

The check for Katie's Fund arrived at the Women of the ELCA office with a handwritten note: "This is my tithe from our garage sale."


A few days before, on July 26-28, Carol Fossum and her husband, Don, held a garage sale at their home in Puyallup, Washington. Among the more popular items were hundreds of youth golf clubs that her daughter accumulated as an LPGA Golf Pro and teacher. “People came out of the woodwork to look at our golf clubs,” Carol remembered.

The huge turnout made for a successful sale. Carol and Don cleared out some clutter from their home. Importantly, items they no longer used are now in the hands of kids and adults who will enjoy them. From the beginning, however, Carol knew that a successful garage sale would mean something else - more dollars for mission. Ten percent of the proceeds are now supporting ministry through Katie’s Fund.

For Carol, this way of sharing income is a regular practice of discipleship. “My mother taught me the joy of giving when I was a child,” she said. “Her thing was ten percent to the Lord, ten percent that I must save, and the rest to give or save or spend as I wanted.’"  When Carol and Don married, they agreed to continue tithing all income no matter the source. This includes garage sales.

Now, both Carol and Don are retired, so their regular income is less. Even so, Carol said, “We are still committed to percentage giving and have not reduced the amount to our local congregation.”

In fact, Carol and Don have used percentage giving to expand their giving capacity. This began when they heard someone in the church issue a challenge to increase the percentage each year. This resonated with Carol. “We decided that 10% was already God's so why not increase our percent each year. For many years we increased the percentage, sometimes just a half percent.”

Percentage giving extends beyond the congregation to Women of the ELCA. Carol said that she has always given a tithe or more to Women of the ELCA, through her congregational unit, cluster, synod, region or churchwide offerings.” Carol has served Women of the ELCA in many capacities. She is currently the president of the Southwestern Washington Synodical Women’s Organization.

Women of the ELCA has also been a community where Carol can talk about tithing. She recalls one circle meeting where the topic of percentage giving came up. “I asked them to think back ten years ago to remember what money they put in the circle offering plate and to  realize that it could be time to increase their giving to Women of the ELCA.” It made an impact and resulted in higher giving for a while.  “Some continued with increased giving,” she said, adding “some did not.”

For Carol, percentage giving goes on, one source of income at a time.

Previous Stewardship stories:

New voices add to Thankoffering service

Taking noodles seriously

Longtime passion leads to enduring gifts

Honoring bold women

So many shoes: A Stewardship story

From scarcity to abundance