FAR HILLS, NJ _ It's no surprise that a giant event that draws crowds of thousands of people _ the Visiting Nurse Association of Somerset Hills'  twice-a-year rummage sale, which had been scheduled for the beginning of May _ has been called off. Both shoppers and those who donate items to be sold have been advised they will need to wait until next fall for the next rummage sale.

The Basking Ridge-based VNA organization has announced that "as a result of the rapidly evolving and unprecedented circumstances" of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the spring rummage sale scheduled for May 1 to 3, and the merchandise donation collection period scheduled for April 4 to 21 are canceled. 

"There is no greater priority for Atlantic Visiting Nurse than the safety and well-being of our volunteers, suppliers, donors and shoppers," the VNA said on its website.

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Each spring and fall, the giant rummage sale for the Visiting Nurse Association of the Somerset Hills is held at the Far Hills Fairgrounds off routes 202 and 512 in Far Hills. 

The rummage sale, a major fundraiser for the home-based nursing association and underinsured patients, involves hundreds of volunteers and thousands of bargain hunters.

In the weeks prior to each sale, volunteers spend weeks helping to prepare for the sale, starting by assisting donors who have been bringing merchandise to be sold at the three-day fundraiser, and then sort, test and price the merchandise. Volunteers also check out shoppers at the actual sale, which spreads into about two dozen departments with a wide variety of merchandise.

The VNA announcement thanked patrons for their continued support, and said the organizing is looking forward to the return of shoppers and volunteers at the scheduled Oct 2-4 Fall Rummage sale.

The nursing organization also asked shoppers to take every precaution to stay safe and healthy. For critical information about COVID-19 from the Atlantic Health System go to http://www.atlantichealth.org.