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Bargain hunting to save lives; Trip inspires Don Baunsgard of North Bend to help people a half a world away

Don Baunsgard squeezes into a filled Eastside Self Storage locker overflowing with furniture, antiques and other yard sale goods. The North Bend resident and world traveler is on a mission to help Ugandan families and has organized an all-Valley yard sale this coming weekend.  - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Don Baunsgard squeezes into a filled Eastside Self Storage locker overflowing with furniture, antiques and other yard sale goods. The North Bend resident and world traveler is on a mission to help Ugandan families and has organized an all-Valley yard sale this coming weekend.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Most Valley families do not worry about whether their water is safe. That’s not the case for many families in the African nation of Uganda.

North Bend resident Don Baunsgard realized this firsthand when he travelled to Kasitu, Uganda, on a mission trip with Snoqualmie Valley Alliance church six years ago.

During a torrential downpour, he saw a mother collecting rainwater off of a tin roof—it was the purest water she could provide to her children, apart from boiled water from a nearby stream. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, some 2,000 children die every day due to contaminated rainwater, worldwide. In Uganda,  runoff is often contaminated, causing disease and illness.

For Baunsgard, who met the family of a child he sponsors, and was given the honor of naming their new baby after his own daughter, the statistics weren't just numbers anymore.

Moved to action, he wants to do more.

In Uganda, he saw starving children with bloated stomachs caused by protein deficiency, and witnessed the blank expression of an orphan girl sitting on the steps of an empty mud hut.

“She was all shriveled up, like she wanted to die,” said Baunsgard. “I wanted to make a difference.”

Baunsgard's best friend, Puyallup resident and former Valleyite Todd VanCise, says that when Don returned from Uganda he was full of emotion and fired up.

“He wanted everyone to see his pictures and videos so that they could experience what he had,” said VanCise.

A year ago, Baunsgard decided to throw the biggest yard sale the Valley has ever seen. He wants to raise $15,000, enough to dig 10 wells in Uganda and provide clean water for 4,000 people. The money would also purchase mosquito nets to protect children from malaria.

“He has a heart for the kids of Uganda,” said VanCise. “This yardsale is just a continuation of his effort to improve their lives.”

Baunsgard’s sale is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 26, 27 and 28 at North Bend Elementary.

Since he started collecting merchandise for the sale in early February, Baunsgard has filled 10 storage units with items for sale, from antiques and vintage musical instruments such as a 1946 piano, to appliances, toys, tools, new and used clothing, even bucket seats for a 1967 Ford Mustang.

The day will also include food, live entertainment, early bird specials and a canned food drive for the Mount Si Food Bank.

Donations have come from people all over the Snoqualmie Valley. Nearly every day, Baunsgard’s phone lights up with other people who want to donate their time and resources to the sale.

“This isn’t a religious event,” said Baunsgard. “It’s a community event. This Valley is full of people with big hearts. I have been blown away by their generosity.”

 

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