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Women helping women

Chapter T P.E.O. garage sale committee members are (clockwise, starting at bottom left) Dorothy Platz, Mary Berdahl, Marge Herr, Jeanine Weideman, Renae Brauer and Gayla Orr. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

For the past 12 years, Chapter T of the P.E.O. Sisterhood has held an annual garage sale at the Hubbard County fairgrounds.

They have raised a significant amount — $53,123, to date — to financially assist women with continuing their higher education.

The P.E.O. Sisterhood is a philanthropic educational organization that offers grants, loans and scholarships to help women reach their educational goals.

"We give local scholarships for gals graduating from high school, and that's usually Nevis and Park Rapids," said member Mary Berdahl. "It means more to people here knowing that we're helping women here. Anyone could qualify who lives here. That's where our money goes."

The chapter's 57 members donate items for the garage sale, everything from furniture to linens to clothing.

"Every year we think there'll be less, but there's more," Berdahl said.

"We're always surprised at the end, on Friday, when we add it up and think, 'Wow! We did it again,'" said member Renae Brauer. "We have a lot of regular customers come year after year. It makes it fun for us because we know them."

Any clothes and shoes that aren't sold are donated to the Disabled American Veterans. Other remaining items are given to the Headwaters Animal Shelter for their annual garage sale.

The P.E.O. Sisterhood maintains six educational projects in the form of grants, scholarships and loans as well as the stewardship of Cottey College. There are merit-based or need-based awards for high school girls and women pursuing a post-secondary education, graduate school or doctoral degree. Applicants are typically sponsored by a local P.E.O. chapter and go through an interview process.