It takes five days to fill the gym at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church with clothing, furniture, toys, jewelry, household items and knickknacks.

It only takes 14 hours for shoppers to nearly clear the place out.

After 13 years, the church’s annual garage sale has become a community fixture that draws loads of donations and crowds of buyers, volunteer Sabrina Hancock says.

“Every year, we fill the gym with everything, and every year, we think people will run out of stuff to donate,” she says. “But they never do.”

This year’s sale is 8 a.m.-3 p.m. April 29-30. Donations will be accepted beginning April 24.

About 50 volunteers work more than 700 man-hours on the sale. Preparation starts the Sunday before the sale and lasts all week as workers sort, price and display the merchandise.

“It literally takes us all week to set up. I set aside this whole week; that’s all we do,” Hancock says. “We are there all day, every day.”

Sale items usually fill the church’s gym and a smaller room. Overflow items are set aside until midday Friday, after the early bird shoppers clear some space.

“Even if you can’t make it until Friday afternoon, you’ve still got a fresh selection,” Hancock says.

Any items left after the sale are donated to a charitable organization that runs a thrift store and has assistance programs for the poor, Hancock says.

Sandra Wall, a church member who has organized the garage sale since the beginning, says it started as a way to buy extra items for the church. Over the years, the effort became more philanthropic.

“The focus for having the sale has shifted from, ‘What can we buy with our proceeds?’ to ‘How can we serve and assist our Lake Highlands community through sharing our blessings with our neighbors who need a helping hand once in a while?’” she says.

The area’s low-income families benefit from the sale, Wall says, and the church raises money for youth ministry trips, community-outreach programs and other endeavors.

This year’s money likely will be spent on furnishings for the church’s new sanctuary, which opened last month, and mission projects, Wall says.

The past three years, the sale has raised between $18,000 and $22,000, Hancock says.

“You can imagine how much stuff that is at garage sale prices. Other than furniture, nothing is expensive at all,” she says.