Known as Trash 2 Treasure, the ninth annual sale diverts clothing, furniture, electronics and appliances from the incinerator in Chester while raising funds for United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Swarthmore College presented a check for $20,000 to the organization last year and expects to top that figure this season.
“Seventy percent of the donations are from graduating seniors,” said Deb Kardon-Brown of the College’s Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility. “The rest comes from undergraduates who live at a distance and faculty and staff who want to contribute.”
Although it generates the excitement for browsers of finding a never-worn pair of shoes, the perfect area rug or a box of every season party displays, the event is far more than merely a fundraiser. A calculation completed several years ago indicated departing students filled 17 20-yard dumpsters with items that had exhausted their usefulness, and the sale serves as the college’s iteration of a future that is environmentally sustainable.
“Chester is an environmental justice community, yet residents have no access to green space,” said co-coordinator Jason Manning, a rising junior from New York City. “Trash 2 Treasure provides internal education and promotes the ethics of sustainability.”
The large quantities for sale may also prod students to question the need for the many purchases made throughout the semester.
“We buy things we never wear, which should make us ask ‘do we really need all this stuff,’” said Kardon-Brown. “As we amass things, we want to be asking ‘what happens when we are finished with it.’”
The proceeds will benefit the United Way Impact Fund, which allocates grants to select nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, career expansion and health and basic needs. Unsold items will be donated to groups such as Goodwill.
Read the full story at the Delco Daily Times.