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Turning Trash 2 Treasure

Turning trash to treasure

The third annual Trash 2 Treasure (T2T) sale - in which students sell hundreds of donated and discarded items by their fellow classmates - raised a new record of more than $20,000 for the United Way of Southeast Delaware County. Below, some of the students involved share their favorite moments.

Ukelele! Tyrannosaurus cake mold! As always, this year's treasures yielded unexpected surprises.

One thing that was really awesome to see was how the things we thought we'd be least likely to sell turned out to be just the thing one of our visitors was looking for. For example, one thing we had in great supply was plastic cutlery and paper plates, left over from various dorm events and parties. At first, I assumed that these wouldn't sell at all, or at least not until the last day when we sell bags full of items for five dollars a bag. But sure enough, on the first day of the sale, one of our first customers was a woman who throws lots of barbecues and block parties during the summer and bought all of our paper and plastic ware right away!

Another cool thing was seeing all of the first year college students from the area purchasing the supplies they would need for college (i.e. whiteboards, bed risers, desk lamps) directly from students who no longer needed them or could use them. It really exemplified the idea of "trash to treasure" - I could see firsthand how items that were worthless to one person took on a whole new worth and importance in different contexts.

Jenny Akchin '10

"I think this is a fitting picture to end on," says Will Treece '11. "Happiness bubbling up from below, Jamie in a fetal position, June doing something strange in the background, and Mark's omnipresent beard hovering in the corner. In closing, yay trash to treasure!"

As a "senior" coordinator, I was charged with most of the volunteer recruiting before T2T. Then, during the whole project, I kept everyone updated on our progress and made sure they knew their respective roles. I was so thrilled doing that job because I was constantly impressed by the dedication that people brought to it.

T2T has a very small crew - about two dozen regular volunteers, plus some extra help during the last week and the sale itself. That means that the whole effort is very dependent on every single person's participation. It would have only taken a handful of people not showing up to sink the whole show, but it never happened. Some volunteers came out to help even after long days in the lab, or when they were sick, or even while they were studying for honors exams. Participation was consistently far beyond what I expected. It felt great to be a part of such a dedicated group of people.

Mark Lewis '10
Education and linguistics
Spring City, Pa.

Will's favorite moment of the sale? "When two chipper young girls redeemed the mattress pads by spending all Sunday afternoon jumping into the gigantic pile," he says.

The center of the floor held a pile of about forty mattress pads - comfortable padding to slip between sheets and mattress. Old, musty, and an unappetizing shade of dark yellow, the mattress pads hardly sold at all and, by the last day of the sale, the pile was as big as ever. I had written them off as trash that just couldn't be turned to treasure.

My favorite moment of the sale, then, came when two chipper young girls redeemed the mattress pads by spending all Sunday afternoon jumping into the gigantic pile. While their parents browsed the sale, they spent the better part of their visit smiling and laughing while taking flying leaps onto the heap of cushioning. After taking some pictures and talking with their parents, I walked away impressed that even unsellable trash could turn into a fun pile of treasure in someone else's eyes.

I signed up for T2T on a whim - I knew I'd be around for the summer and they said they'd feed me - so I'm genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed it and am looking forward to next year's sale. It felt great to work on a useful, gigantic, and overwhelmingly successful project from start to finish, and I'm happy to count T2T among the highlights of my year.

Will Treece '11
Detroit, Mich.

June enjoys a laugh with fellow volunteer Nick Gabinet '11 while dressing up in "T2T outfits." I think my favorite memories are all over the place. Here's a list of some of them:

  • * Learning that we raised over $20,000 this year!
  • * Seeing the squash courts being piled high with treasures of all sorts... and being extremely overwhelmed by the idea that we have to sort and move it all!
  • * Finding a ukulele in Hallowell!
  • * Finding so many fridges in Worth... all leaking around our feet and, eventually, on our clothes.
  • * Falling asleep on the grass in the Willet's "backyard" area from exhaustion and waking in the arms of the life-size St. Pauli Girl cardboard model.
  • * Coming back to Roberts (where we lived for the summer) after a long day of moving things, and having a nice T2T dinner together.
  • * The vans rides: riding in between or on top of massive piles of treasure and occasionally waving to people in the car behind us.
  • * Dressing up in T2T outfits. It's fun every year.
  • * Eating Marina's delicious meals (made of whatever was left in our food room) in the last two days of our sale and clean-up process. Everyone should put peanut butter in their beans and rice.
  • * Getting lost on our way to the Goodwill store on the last day. We probably drove around for well over an hour before we got to the store with a van piled high of leftover treasure. (I even took a nap somewhere in the heap!) And the look on the Goodwill staff's faces when they saw all that treasure? Priceless - you'll just have to see it for yourself next year. :-)

June Xie '11
English literature
Queens, N.Y.