Hundreds of volunteers, donations from thousands of people and countless hours of preparation all paid off for a good cause Saturday morning at Operation Hope's annual tag sale, held in and around First Church Congregational. The two-day event was the agency's 18th annual.

"In the old days, we would pull in around $30,000 or $40,000," said Operation Hope's Executive Director Carla Miklos. "In recent years, the take has been smaller. People do more consigning and eBay these days. Still, we have a lot of generous donations. There are literally thousands of items, including furniture, sporting goods, artwork, frames, mirrors, toys, electronics, housewares, linens, holiday items, jewelry and finer things like collectibles."

Miklos added that, for the last three years, the sale has also offered high-end raffle baskets, assembled from businesses and people in the community. In addition, the Fairfield Rotary Club was selling doughnuts and coffee in the morning, and hamburgers and hot dogs in the afternoon, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Operation Hope. Sherwood Farm in Easton and Billy's Bakery contributed items for sale as well.

The sale funds general operations of the Operation Hope home less shelter and community kitchen at 50 Nichols St. The shelter houses 18 men, six women and three families at any given time, according to Miklos. The organization's food pantry serves 475 households. The agency also manages 46 units of affordable housing scattered throughout Fairfield and Bridgeport. In addition, there is a clinical team to support clients' medical and basic needs.

"It's hard to put into words how generous the community is," said Miklos. "The community is a combination of hundreds of volunteers that help with set up, the merchandise donated by people all week, volunteers that work the sale and people that come out to shop for a good cause."

Among the 50 to 60 volunteers on hand Saturday was former First Selectman Kenneth Flatto. "When you love your town, you have to keep volunteering," he said. "I'm pleased to help organizations like Operation Hope. Last week, I was doing a stint at Pequot Library (annual summer book sale). It's the least I can do."

Another volunteer, 19-year-old Serena Mistry, a student at the University of Connecticut, said she wanted to help out during the summer before starting back to college and that her efforts would serve as good work experience while helping a great cause.

Sarah Booth, a Southport resident and one of the shoppers, said , "I'm looking for furniture to furnish an apartment. I'm seeing many interesting items here. There's quite a range of quality, styles and great values."

Tanya Kujan, at checkout, said, "We came down today to see what great stuff we could find. We also donated many items. We're rotating our stuff. One man's junk is another man's treasure."

The second day of Operation Hope's annual tag sale takes place today from noon to 4 p.m., inside and around First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road, corner of Old Post Road. Parking is available at the intersecting streets as well as in the parking lot sharing by the church and Gaelic-American Club.