When Kimberly Carrell-Smith, a professor of practice in history, and John Smith, an associate professor and chair of the history department, noticed Lehigh students throwing away usable items while moving out of their dorms and off-campus houses, they decided to do something about it.
The two began dumpster diving to salvage these items, as well as waiting by garbage bins to get items before students could throw them away. This all began 17 years ago.
As a result, the first Move Out Project occurred. This event sells usable items students no longer need, to members of the Bethlehem community. It was originally run by the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, an organization aimed at enhancing the lives of members of the Bethlehem and Fountain Hill communities. However, in 2001 the Lehigh Community Service Office began running the project.
Carolina Hernandez, the director of the Community Service Office, said the event has grown every year — the first event raised about $500, while the event last year raised over $19,000. Also, 900 people attended the sale last year in the first 15 minutes.
“Basically (the event) is just the repurposing of stuff college kids are getting rid of at the end of the year, and selling it for very, very low costs to the South Side community,” Gabby Dardis, ‘17, said.
The Move Out Project collects unused school supplies, household goods and unopened food. Even items, such as partially used laundry detergent, are collected to donate to local shelters.
After these items are collected, they are sold at the Great South Side Sale in South Bethlehem. The sale benefits children and youth programs in area, such as homework clubs, which allow Lehigh students to help young students in the area with their homework after school.
The proceeds also help fund field trips and activities, such as Broughal bowling, for the South Bethlehem schools.
“The field trips occur over the summer when there isn’t already existing programming for South Bethlehem kids, it’s a good opportunity to continue education over time when education can recede,” said CJ Sevilla, the Community Service Office graduate assistant.
“We basically try to make it so the money stays in South Bethlehem and funds whatever necessary,” Hernandez said.
The items are sold at lower prices than their original value in order to ensure the event is affordable for all members of the community.
“The real purpose is salvaging items from going into dumpsters and additionally getting it to homes of family members at affordable prices in a way thats not a hand out but in a way thats empowering and restores dignity. Families can feel great about purchasing high-end quality items at affordable prices,” Hernandez said.
At the event, a pair of shoes usually sells for $2, and clothing is usually sold between $1 and and $5. Sevilla added that they usually try to not price anything over $20.
Items that cannot be sold at the sale, such as food, are donated to South Bethlehem pantries and food banks.
Hernandez said these donations filled up the food banks in South Bethlehem twice last year.
This year, items for the event will be collected between May 5 and May 28. Students can donate most household goods including furniture, clothing, linens, rugs and cleaning supplies. Unopened food and school supplies, including partially-used notebooks are also collected.
Sofas and upholstered chairs, computer monitors, mattresses and mattress pads are not collected. Donations are collected in every residence hall and sorted at Lamberton Hall.
The actual sale will be held on Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fourth Street in South Bethlehem, across from St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church.