The organizers of the annual Nearly New Sale at the Parish Church of St. Helena have amassed a number of interesting stories over the years, but one, in particular, remains quite the mystery.
Whatever happened to those brand-new bras with the tags still attached?
The bras had been donated to the sale, but never made it to the checkout aisle. Of course, they were most likely stolen, but their disappearance was a wake-up call to the sale's coordinators.
"We realized that there are people in Beaufort who need personal items of clothing -- and for free," said Sharon Sanders of St. Helena Island, a former co-chairwoman of the Nearly New Sale for several years and a member of the church.
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"At first this may have been shocking to many, but St. Helena's (church) responded by incorporating this need in a parish-wide event," she said.
The underwear theft resulted in the church's annual Feel Good All Under oyster roast, which began in 1997. Admission to the event is a package of new underwear, which is donated to charitable groups.
Many legends have lingered over the years since the sale started in 1990 as a small part of the church's annual fall bazaar, offering only children's clothes. In 1996, the sale had grown so large that it broke off as a separate event, and now is held in August to accommodate back-to-school shoppers.
An awkward moment between the sale's co-chairwomen and a visiting candidate for a new rector is one Sanders and Martha Lynn Webb of Beaufort will never forget.
"Sharon and I, and others, were dressed up for our Nearly New fashion show, which we would have during the bazaar workers' luncheon -- and I mean really 'dressed up' in Nearly New finery," Webb said.
It was the first year men's clothes were included in the sale, so Sanders donned a pinstriped men's suit, then accessorized it with a scarf and high heels. Webb wore a red dress, red stockings, red high heels and a red hat.
While the women were modeling their gaudy outfits, they came face to face with Frank Limehouse, who became their new rector.
"Luckily he was a haberdasher in a former life and had a great sense of humor," Webb said.
At least one item of clothing at the sale has been donated and sold more than once -- and worn by at least four parishioners.
A toddler's beige wool church coat and hat were purchased at the sale in the early 1980s by Sharon Sanders for her son, John Fletcher Sanders. She wrote his last name in the label. It has since become known as "The Traveling Coat."
By 1992, the jacket and hat found its way back into the Nearly New sale, and were purchased by Jane Manos of Beaufort. Manos' son, Nicholas, wore the coat to church, then handed it down to his brother, John. Once outgrown, it was given to a friend, Gibson O'Neal, the grandson of Gray and Fran Sanders -- and it still had the name "Sanders" written in the collar.
Volunteers also have found something to treasure at the sale.
"As I look back, I realize that many of my greatest friendships were formed during this endeavor," Sanders said. "Our whole family was involved. It is truly a gift to see the community outpouring of items that are received, purchased, left over donations and then financial gifts from gently used items from our closets."
Profits from the sale go to area missions.