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BU and Goodwill team up for Earth Day

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Bu Leslie Friday

Lounging on GSU Plaza takes on new meaning today. To help celebrate Earth Day 2010, sustainability@bu, which carries out BU’s sustainability program, is teaming up with Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries to create a faux living room, complete with couches, carpeting, tables, and chairs — all used — in the middle of GSU Plaza.

“It’s a way to show people walking by that these items can be found at Goodwill and not only at a department store,” says Susan Chaityn Lebovits, communications specialist for sustainability@bu.

It’s also a way to encourage BU students to bring their unwanted clothing and shoes, as well as household goods, linens, and small appliances, to one of the many Goodwill bins that will be placed in or near dorms, as part of the University’s end-of-the-year used goods drive, which will run from Saturday, April 24, to Commencement Sunday, May 16.

Last year, the University worked with the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, gathering almost seven tons of clothing from students — not a bad haul for a drive organized in just eight weeks.

“The students were incredibly receptive to the program,” says Woodrow Freese, assistant director of residential life. “The sheer volume of clothing that we turned over to Big Brother Big Sister was mind-boggling.”

Still, Freese and Dennis Carlberg, director of sustainability@bu, did a campus tour after students moved out and saw dumpsters overflowing with fans, desks, TVs, and other small appliances — all functional items that could have been diverted from a landfill. This year’s effort promises to avoid such waste, with help from Goodwill, which happens to have been founded by alum Edgar J. Helms (STH 1893, Hon.’40).

Students are encouraged to contribute clothing and many household goods, including coffee pots, plates, silverware, irons, picture frames, rugs, fans, lamps, linens, and towels. But, says Freese, everything does not go: Goodwill will not accept books, plants, food, beds, mini grills, toiletries, or large furniture items.

James Harder, Goodwill’s director of communications, says bins will be emptied daily, and, if necessary, two or three times a day. Donations will be weighed, he says, and the final tally relayed to University officials.

As with all Goodwill donations, items go to a distribution center, where they’re divvied among 11 stores statewide and sold at very low prices. Harder says proceeds fund job training and placement programs, services for the disabled, and urban youth programs.

So far, BU is the only university working with Goodwill in an end of school year move-out drive. But if things go well, says Harder, Goodwill will attempt to expand the partnership to other universities.

Collection bins will be located on GSU Plaza alongside the Earth Day display on Thursday, April 22. From Saturday, April 24, to Sunday, May 16, students can put their donated goods in bins at a number of locations around campus: at GSU Link, at Claflin, Sleeper, and Rich Halls, 1019 Commonwealth Ave., 10 Buick St., 33 Harry Agganis Way, Warren Towers, The Towers, Danielsen Hall, Myles Standish Hall, 518 Park Dr., and 575 Commonwealth Ave. More information will be sent to students in their end-of-the-year closing packets.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday
This story ran in BU Today on April 22, 2010

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