Billings Teen Holds His 9th Annual Free Sale To Help The Needy

Jul 27, 2018

Trent Ayer's Free Free Sale
Credit Kay Erickson

At the age of 5, Trent Ayers noticed there were people in need.

He wanted to help. So he came up with this idea: ask people for donations of household items and then give them away. That was the start for this community philanthropist.

Trent Ayers
Credit Kay Erickson

“I was wondering, 'if people who don’t have money, how they get items like food or furniture or toys?'” asked Trent. “And my parents told me they did not. So I was wanting to give them that stuff and my parents 

let me do a sale, a garage sale, but everything is free.”

That was the start, for the then-5 year old, of what he dubbed a "Free Sale," where everything was, indeed, free.

His mom, Beth Ayers, thinks her son was like most kids, as they start to understand how the economy works and how money works, and wondered how those without were able to get the  things they needed for everyday living.

“He just kept with it and kept talking about and talking about it, and wanted to try it out as a garage sale--and has kept with it,” explained Beth.  “We have encouraged him that even though, economically, giving away things for free doesn’t make sense, it could work.”

And work it has. For the last 8 years Trent’s idea of a free sale has grown. It has even surprised Trent. He explained that people would come to the sale and take items, but return with items of their own to donate.

“Or they just take one thing and donate a lot more than it was worth,” Trent said. “And people would volunteer their time and energy on a little sale when it was first going and now it’s gotten so big. “

The sale has grown from the Ayers garage, to their backyard, to the large fellowship hall this year at First United Methodist Church, downtown Billings.

Credit Kay Erickson

Items available this year range from a silver tea service, furniture, a child’s bed, toys and electronics.

Though the items are free people still donate money that he then gives to Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley, an organization that provides shelter, meals and services to homeless families. Last year Trent donated around $1,100.   

Trent described himself as a regular teen who likes to sleep and play on his computer.

But it was with his parents help that Trent began his journey helping others. Beth has some suggestions for other parents of budding philanthropists.

“I would tell them to find opportunities for their children to help out, “said Beth. “ I would also tell them to encourage their children, even if as adults it doesn’t make sense, that anything is possible. “

Trent’s Free Free Sale is Saturday, July 28, 2018, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at First United Methodist Church, 2800 4th Av. N.,  Billings.