Neighbors ‘Paying it Forward' Touch Hearts, Pockets

People came before daylight to the garage sale in Rancho Peñasquitos.  It's not just any garage sale; it is a shining example of neighbors helping neighbors, and ‘paying it forward.’

"I'm absolutely amazed with the outpouring of people who have come from all over,” Mike Silberhorn said.  "Such compassion, such love from so many people."

Neighbors are pitching in to help the North County man who lost his job.  They call it 'paying back' for what he 'paid forward' on their behalf.

"He’s always the first one to want to be there to help and now it's payback time, and I really feel it's very warranted, He deserved it more than anyone could ever say," Kathryn Lacey said.

The garage sale took place Saturday morning in the 9000 block of Stargaze Avenue and could continue Sunday, depending on the weather.

"This stuff that's on the floor here and all gathered around and on the tables, the fishing tackle.  A lot of my fishing gear is for sale," Silberhorn said.

That's where things stand for Silberhorn - marketing used merchandise to help make ends meet. He has been laid-off from the management job he held for 33 years, with a locally based landscaping and horticulture products firm.  No severance, not even a 'thank you'.  His medical coverage is due to lapse at the end of the month.

Apparently, he's just the kind of guy you'd want living next door, so his neighbors have donated most of the stuff and he'll keep all the proceeds.  But his neighbors are just part of this story. People touched by the act of generosity came from far and wide to not only buy items, but donate items for sale as well.

Silberhorn showed us envelopes he had been handed by strangers. He had tear in his eye as he opened one of them - inside was $200 in cash.

A 20-year-old stranger who came from Vista and donated items including designer purses she no longer used, made cupcakes and then stayed to help.

"It touched me, I feel I have a job and I don't have a degree, I feel lucky and we need to pay it forward. That's the only way our country and our economy is going to get better if we help out the people who need it," Haley Nothern said.

Glenn Pinto, a Rancho Peñasquitos resident who does not know Silberhorn, was returning from a baseball game with his children and saw the sale. He bought some foamies to go camping, and a cultivator.
"I realized it was for a guy who had just lost his job so I thought it would be a good way to do good service and get something good at the same time," Pinto said.

For the love of Silberhorn and his medically challenged wife and daughter, the neighborhood is stocking his garage and living room with their castoffs so he can put the cash toward prescriptions and mortgage payments.

"All this is going to go a long way to help us out, get us through the next few months until I can get a job which I will, I will get a job," Silberhorn said.

"Mike has been there for anybody, anytime they asked.  So we need to be there for him," neighbor Sue Edwards said.

"I've had some teary moments in the house with my wife, just thinking about all the wonderful things, that people came together," Silberhorn said.   "You know you hear about a lot of bad people, bad things that go on, but there's so many more good people in the world than we realize."

It's an unusually tight neighborhood. Like Silberhorn, most homeowners have lived here “forever,” so rallying around one of their own was really second nature.  Still, Silberhorn’s neighbors say they would welcome seeing their example of 'good hearts' stepping up in bad times 'go viral'.

"As far as the rest of the community, I hope they do the same, I do.  I think they will, I think they will, Stein said.  “You have to help your neighbors.  You have to help your friends."

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