Yard sale to benefit marine mammal group

Date Published: 
May 9, 2014

Donations sought for May 17 event

Yard sale shoppers never know what they might find at a sale, and sometimes that can even include the good feeling of having supported a good cause.

The Marine Education Research and Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute will host their annual MERR Yard Sale & Open House from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, offering the chance to pick up a bargain and some knowledge at the same time.

MERR is currently seeking donations of all kinds to help make one of its biggest annual fundraisers a big success. And, for very large items, MERR Executive Director Suzanne Thurmon said, “We will do our best to pick up” whatever people cannot deliver by themselves.

“If they’re just donating things, they can drop them off at our building. Our volunteers will be tagging and sorting the day of the sale,” Thurmon said.

Anyone interested donating should contact MERR at (302) 228-5029 before delivering items, to ensure the building is staffed at that time.

And, next weekend, people will find the donated treasures for sale. Past finds include a canoe, antiques, furniture, collectible dishware, a “beautiful antique sewing machine” and much more, said Thurmon.

“You just never know what you’re going to find there,” she said. “We always get some really nice pieces.”

The rain-or-shine event also includes a bake sale, lemonade and tours of the Lewes-based facility. All proceeds go to the group’s marine mammal stranding program. Despite being Delaware’s sole marine rescue group, MERR operates without state or federal funding.

“We rely on these fundraisers to do the work that we do, which includes rescuing marine sea mammals and sea turtles that are alive … and doing research on the animals that died … to possibly gain information on ocean health, which is a direct impact on public health.”

MERR volunteers usually respond to around 100 standings each year, but they saw a high of 293 animals stranded in 2013, resulting from a virus affecting dolphins in the Atlantic.

“We have no idea what we’re going to see this year,” Thurmon said.

So far, volunteers have already assisted with 50 strandings this year — many of them seals. When an animal stranding is reported, Thurmon and MERR volunteers arrive to help ensure people don’t get too close to the wild animals.

Some of the seals are merely looking for a rest and soon head back into the water. Stranded dolphins are more likely to need medical attention, which Thurmon coordinates. And, should an animal not survive its stranding, MERR helps study it through a necropsy.

MERR also provides free educational programs at no cost to local schools, teaching about marine life.

The MERR facility is located at 801 Pilottown Road in Lewes, next to the Coast Guard Station.