On a sunny Saturday afternoon, residents of Port Richmond gathered in a Kmart parking lot on Aramingo Avenue for a community flea market. Many of the vendors were locals selling inexpensive or secondhand goods such as books, clothes and glassware while the rest of the crowd hoped to find a bargain.
Each stand and each vendor was different from the next. There was a stand that sold baby clothes and toys and there was another that sold music equipment. The vendors’ ages ranged from early 20s to late 50s. Bounded by the commonality of belonging to an activist community, clothing vendors, music equipment vendors, the young and the old paid a rental space free that was collected and donated to benefit March of the Dimes.
Each year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely and for many the future can be bleak, according to the March of Dimes. Premature birth is the leading killer of American newborns, the organization said.
A portion of the funds raised from the flea market will support the March of Dimes’ fight to improve the health of infants by preventing birth defects and infant mortality and to reduce the occurrence of premature births, Kmart associates said.
The community event is organized through the Kmart Corp., which has been the largest contributor of the March of Dimes for the past 24 years. The corporation has raised more than $63 million to help the charity meet the needs of moms and babies.
A Kmart customer and sister to a vendor selling homemade baskets, Blanca Tovar, and her 7-year-old daughter Najah Clemente browsed the stands for deals on toys and shoes. Tovar came to support her sister and the cause all while experiencing some family bonding time with her daughter. She and her sister live nearby and are regular shoppers at this location.
“There are good people at Kmart,” Tovar said. “Everybody’s got good stuff here.”
The Kmart’s assistant manager and an organizer of the event, Pat Thomas, said that the community has been proactive in helping raise money for the March of Dimes mission. Thomas explained that Kmart has established a long-term relationship with its customers who are local residents and that this community flea market, held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., only strengthened this bond. By 1 p.m., they raised $1,000 and intended on raising another thousand by the end of the day.
“I know a lot of people here,” Tovar explained. “It’s community coming together for a good cause at the end of the day.”