A cool, cloudy morning and thousands of donated sale items at bargain prices were a great alternative to Fairfield's beaches and golf courses as crowds turned out Saturday for the first day of Operation Hope's annual tag sale.

The agency's 25th annual tag sale continued under brighter conditions Sunday on the property of First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road. The sale proceeds benefit Operation Hope, which manages local shelters for homeless men, women and families, as well a community kitchen and food pantry, and transitional housing programs.

In 2012, the agency's kitchen served 32,000 meals and more than 115,000 were provided through the pantry. Another 175 individuals and families were given shelter and clinical support.

Lisa Bond, the tag sale's chairwoman, said, "There's such an outpouring from the community with the ultimate goal of helping people get back on their feet in Fairfield County.

"In this weekend's sale, we have art, furniture, sporting goods, housewares, holiday items, electronics, books, bikes, jewelry and more. And over 100 volunteers are helping out today, while hundreds were involved in the set-up and organization of the event."

A highlight was a raffle. "We have 20 baskets donated by area companies," said Alison Groenstein, the raffle chairwoman. "Tickets are $1 apiece and people can bid on any of them. One basket, from Nauti Dolphin, offers three large pizzas. The Fairfield Fire Department is offering a ride in one of their fire trucks, in another package."

But on any day, sale organizers said, people who want to help Operation Hope can donate non-perishable foods to the pantry, bring a home-cooked meal, or drop off cash or a check at the main office.

Rosie Jones-Clarke, a day-care worker in Black Rock, was pleased to be able to support Operation Hope by shopping for bargains at the sale. "I was hoping to find some great things like artwork for the day care," she said. "There's something for everyone here."

Jenny Herbert trekked all the way up from Brooklyn, N.Y., to shop at the sale. "I am visiting my mom, Barbara, here in town and have been coming to this sale since high school, about 15 or more years," she said. "There are no good big sales in New York, like church sales. I like classic, vintage items like linens, but also craft supplies and art prints.

To learn more about Operation Hope and make a donation, call 203-292-5588, visit its headquarters at 636 Old Post Road or check its website at www.operationhopect.org