By Joe Earle

Sam Schaffer, left, and Max Barab show a small portion of the items they collected for their yard sale fundraiser.

When Max Barab saw the televised stories of devastation in Haiti, he felt he should do something to help.

“I just kept thinking, ‘It seems like a real good opportunity to help them out,’” Max said. “I saw all the other people doing things. I just thought that somehow, some way – whether by raising money or sending things to them – that we could help them.”

Max was watching the broadcast of the “Help for Haiti Now” concert and telethon with his dad, Max said. When they showed video stories of how the Jan. 12 earthquake had changed lives, especially the lives of children, Max was moved.

Then he thought about the charity yard sales he and his older sister had put together when he was in elementary school to raise money for local charities. Those sales had raised thousands of dollars for a local homeless shelter and for victims of Hurricane Katrina, he said.

Now 15 and a student at Pace Academy, Max thought about holding another yard sale, this time to raise money for victims of the Haitian earthquake. He worried he couldn’t do it alone, so he called his friend Sam Schaffer, a fellow ninth-grader at Pace, and they decided that they’d work together to hold a sale on Saturday, Feb. 27, and Sunday, Feb. 28. The plan is to hold the sale in the driveway of Max’s home at 2830 Wyngate Drive NW in Buckhead.

“I was a little apprehensive at first,” Sam said. “I knew he’d done yard sales before, and they like to do things big.”

And big it is.

After the two sent e-mails to friends and neighbors asking for donations for the sale, things just took off. Their friends e-mailed their friends. Word spread. Donations started coming from all over.

“The word has gotten out,” Max said.

In the few weeks since they started talking up the sale, the Barabs have been overwhelmed by a torrent of contributions. Furniture, televisions, toys, luggage, dishes – more than 1,000 items all together, Max estimates –filled the family’s garage, packed a donated container parked in their driveway and covered card tables and folding tables set up throughout the living room and dining room, family room of their Buckhead home. There were paintings and mirrors, luggage and golf clubs, books and videotapes, Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations.

More than 50 families contributed items, said Max’s mother, Benita Baird. Items came from friends in Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and various Atlanta neighborhoods. Some came from as far away as Johns Creek and Macon.

“This one is larger than ever,” Baird said.

What does she think about turning her house over to the sale? “I think it’s great,” she said. “I love these sales, for several reasons. It just shows how generous the community can be and how they will band together to support a good cause.”

Besides, she said, “it’s like a treasure hunt. I like to see what will show up.”

And she’s proud of her son. “What he is, is an entrepreneur in a 15-year-old’s body,” his mother, Benita Baird, said in an e-mail. “He knows that he can’t really get results with only his stuff and ours to sell, and this time his and Sam’s efforts for Haiti have really gotten results.”

Sam’s impressed, too. “It’s awesome that Max even thought of it,” Sam said. “This is a really big tragedy. When Max came to me and said we should have a yard said, I was really proud of Max.”

For his part, Max says he just wanted to help. “My family, we’ve always had an emphasis on community service and giving to the food bank, giving to the [homeless] shelter,” he said. “I just feel that I’m really fortunate myself and anything I can do to help others who are less fortunate is good. It makes you feel good to help others who aren’t as fortunate.”

Max argues that a big advantage of holding a yard sale for charity is that it recycles goods that people don’t want into cash that can be used to do some good and provides bargains for people who may not otherwise be able to afford something like a replacement TV. “It doesn’t take anything away from anybody,” he said. “They’re giving items they might have thrown away and now we’re using them.”

The money raised by the sale, he said, all will go to Help for Haiti Now, the charity that held the telethon that got him thinking about holding the yard sale in the first place.

“It’ll make a difference,” Max said. “In Haiti, it doesn’t cost much to save a life.”

Max Barab and Sam Schaffer plan to hold their yard sale from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28. The sale to raise money for victims of the Haitian earthquake will be held at 2830 Wyngate Drive, N.W.