Instead of throwing things out of a college dorm or off-campus house at the end of the school year, The Move Out Collection Drive & The Great South Side Sale sponsored by the Lehigh Community Service Office offers students the opportunity to donate their property to give back to the South Bethlehem community.
The Community Services office collects items including gently used clothing, furniture, office supplies, unopened food and cleaning supplies. They are then sold at a reduced rate during the subsequent sale. Instead of filling out a landfill, the items are repurposed and the money raised is used to fund programs in the South Bethlehem community.
The idea for these events originated in 1995 from retired Community Scholars Program Director Kimberly Carrell-Smith and her husband.
Carrell-Smith said it all started when her husband noticed a massive amount of belongings belonging to former students in Trembley’s dumpsters. When they returned the next day, they discovered clothing, electronics, lamps and other household appliances. They took the items to a local thrift store and decided they needed to find a way to organize the items and sell them to the community.
After years of trial and error, the Move Out Collection Drive & The Great South Side Sale was born.
“It can bring some fairness to the lives of consumers, to the lives of people who want to consume with dignity, not just rummaging through someone’s trash,” Carrell-Smith said.
This year marks the first time the organization’s events have taken place since the pandemic interrupted plans for the past two years. Jake Graham, ’21 ’22G, a graduate assistant at the Community Service Office, said in 2019 they had a huge turnout and raised $23,000, with the cost of each item selling for 50 cents to a dollar.
Graham said planning for the fundraiser and sale requires contacting many different people on campus, so preparations began in February and will continue through June. The Community Services office should ensure that there are drop off locations where students can donate their belongings. They also need to make sure there are tents, chairs and tables available for hire, enough boxes, and that they reserve a spot to hold the sale, which requires coordination across campuses.
“Students like it a lot, especially senior graduates, because they love having a place to get their stuff. They don’t have to pay to throw it away and they don’t have to pay the movers to take it out. Graham said. “The community loves it because there’s less litter on the streets and they have a low-cost way to get quality items.”
Carolina Hernandez, assistant dean of students and director of the community services office, said she was thrilled that the Move Out fundraising campaign and the South Side Big Sale are finally happening again after a two-year hiatus.
Hernandez said many parents in the community bring their children to the sale to buy school supplies and clothes for next year.
“It’s a fundraiser, but it’s really more of a benefit,” Hernandez said. “I’m not here to extort money from anyone. We want it to stay affordable, we want it to stay a community builder, and we want people to feel like they’re part of it with us.
The Community Services office will begin collecting items in May and will continue through June. The Big South Side Sale will take place at Broughal Middle School on June 4.