The Lehigh Community Service Office aims to engage students and faculty in service of the greater Lehigh Valley area by providing volunteer experiences. The office has contact with over 100 local agencies and runs major service programs for students. (Annie Henry/BW Staff)

Donate, don’t dump: Community Service Office offers Southside sale


As an alternative to throwing out items from a college dorm or an off-campus house at the end of the school year, The Move Out Collection Drive & The Great South Side Sale sponsored by Lehigh’s Community Service Office offers students the chance to donate their belongings to give back to the South Bethlehem community.  

The Community Service Office collects items including slightly used clothing, furniture, office supplies, unopened food and cleaning supplies. They are then sold at a discounted rate during the subsequent sale. Instead of filling up a landfill, items are repurposed and the money raised is put toward funding programming in the South Bethlehem community. 

The idea for these events originated in 1995 from retired director of the Community Fellows Program Kimberly Carrell-Smith and her husband. 

Carrell-Smith said it all started when her husband noticed a massive amount of old students’ belongings in the Trembley dumpsters. When they went back the following day, they discovered clothes, electronics, lamps and other appliances. They brought the stuff 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 came to be. 

“It can bring a little equity into the lives of consumers, to the lives of people who want to consume with dignity, not through just digging through someone’s garbage,” Carrell-Smith said. 

This year is the first time the organization’s events are being held since the pandemic halted plans for the last two years. Jake Graham, ‘21 ‘22G, graduate assistant in the Community Service Office, said in 2019, they had a huge turnout and raised $23,000, with the cost of each item selling from 50 cents to a dollar. 

Graham said planning for the collection drive and sale requires contacting many different people on campus, which is why preparations began in February and will continue through June. The Community Service Office has to ensure there are drop-off locations for students to donate their belongings. They also need to make sure there are tents, chairs and tables available to rent, enough boxes and that they reserve a location to hold the sale — all of which require cross-campus coordination. 

“The students are super appreciative of it, especially graduating seniors because they love that they have a place to get rid of stuff. They don’t have to pay for trashing it and they don’t have to pay for movers to get it out,” Graham said. “The community likes it because then there is less trash on the streets and they have a discounted way to get quality items.”

Carolina Hernandez, assistant dean of students and director of the Community Service Office, said she is excited for the Move Out Collection Drive & The Great South Side Sale to finally happen again after a two year hiatus.

Hernandez said many parents from the community bring their children to the sale to buy school supplies and clothes for the next year. 

“It is a fundraiser but it’s really more of a benefit,” Hernandez said. “I’m not here to squeeze money out of anyone. We want to keep it affordable, we want to keep it as a community builder and we want people to feel like they are a part of it with us.”

The Community Service Office will begin to collect items in May and continue through June.  The Great South Side Sale will take place at Broughal Middle School on June 4. 

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