I interviewed Sammi Stone ’17, a Give it Up! student employee. She answered my questions about why you should donate to Give it Up!
How would you describe Give it Up! to someone who’s never heard of it before?
Give it Up! is a program run by the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA) at Williams College with some support from the Zilkha Center. It’s a service for students to make it accessible and convenient to donate unwanted goods at the end of the year. Give it Up! benefits local charities, including the tag sale at the First Congregational Church, the ABC Clothing Sale, the Williamstown Food Pantry, and Konyango CBO, a book charity run by Williams alums (we first sell back any books that Water Street Books will take, and all that money plus 15% of commissions through BetterWorld Books go to Konyango CBO. 5% of BWB sales go to Books for Africa. Books we deem unusable are recycled).
How did you get involved with the program?
I first got involved sophomore year because I wanted a job to do during the transitional period between the end of school and graduation because I was staying on campus for graduation and the summer. I’ve now worked with the program for three years. (Interested in working for Give it Up! as a student employee next year? Click here for more information.)
What do you as an employee?
We set up pods from Connors Bros. and Mullen in all residential neighborhoods and get them outfitted with boxes for different categories of donations, including clothes, food, books, appliances, electronics, and more (see the end of this interview for a full list of accepted items). We then collect donated goods from pods and take them to local charities. Occasionally, we help volunteers at charities process donations.
This year you are leading Give it Up! as the head student employee. What does that entail?
I organize shift schedules, make sure everyone is in the loop (we have eight student employees this year), and do some light administrative work to get everything ready before the pods go up. CLiA Program Assistant Colin Ovitsky is the staff person in charge of Give it Up!, so I work with him.
What are some of the most interesting donations you’ve found?
A bicycle in a box, a weed whacker, and a stick horse toy with a dinosaur head.
What do wish people knew before donating?
It’s really helpful to sort your items into the appropriate boxes at the pod, that makes a big difference to us! Believe it or not, a lot of people mistake the Give it Up! pod for a storage pod, so I wish they knew that wasn’t true. And I wish community members wouldn’t donate to the pods: it’s much more efficient and considerate for non-students with cars to bring donations directly to the charities.
Why this is a sustainable, environmentally friendly project?
Give it Up! was originally created because the bulk of stuff left behind in dorms used to be so great that Facilities had to shovel it out. The program doesn’t prevent all waste, but it helps a lot. We reduce waste, reuse items that don’t belong in the trash, and benefit local charities.
Here’s some environmental impact data from CLiA’s Colin Ovitsky:
- Total Hours Worked by Students: 321
- September 2015 ABC Clothing Sale Proceeds: $38,796*
- 2016 Revenue Raised for KCBO:
- $2100 – Water Street Books
- $555 – Better World Books (as of 7/20/16)
- 2016 Refrigerators Collected: 104
- 2 Van Loads of Computer & TV Equipment Delivered to Agway Barn
- 2015-16 Environmental Impact (May 2015 – July 2016)**:
- Books Recycled or Reused: 4,823 (6,600 lbs)
- Trees Saved: 77
- Water Saved: 47,280 gallons
- Greenhouse Gases Saved: 10,313 lbs
- Landfill Space Saved: 10 cubic yards
- Electricity Saved: 15,931 kwh
* The above total represents the ABC Clothing Sale’s proceeds during the September 2015 sale, a large percentage of which is from clothing collected during the 2015 GIU campaign. We have attempted to calculate the financial benefit to local charitable organization that is generated by the sale of items donated during GIU, but this has proven difficult because the FCC Tag Sale and ABC Clothing Sale also collect donations from other sources throughout the community, so they have not necessarily been able to isolate the revenue specifically from GIU items.
** This data is related only to the donated books, and is generated through reports on our Better World Books account. This includes books collected during both the 2015 and 2016 GIU campaigns as of 7/20/16. Other than these reports and a count of refrigerators donated that was provided by FCC, we do not have measurable data regarding other donated or recycled items (furniture, appliances, electronics, etc.). The nature and pace of the collection, combined with the fact that volunteers working with the community organizations are also collecting items, makes it challenging to gather data. We hope to expand the involvement of the Zilkha Center in future years to begin collecting more accurate data related to the volume, tonnage and value of goods collected, as well as the environmental impact of the electronics and computer equipment collected through GIU and deposited at the Agway Barn, which are later recycled through the College’s contracted services.
Give it Up! pods are everywhere! Donate your items today!
What TO Donate:
- books (not course packets and magazines)
- school supplies
- knick knacks
- children’s games and items
- unopened food and drink products
- household and plastic items
- sports equipment
- musical instruments
- microwaves and fridges (working)
- clothing and accessories
- bedding and towels
- open or unopened body care products
- dryer sheets
- cleaning supplies
- shoes and footwear (good condition)
- computers, printers, and TVs (working or not)
What NOT to Donate:
- course packets (please recycle!)
- foam mattress toppers
- bed pillows in bad condition
- broken items and trash
- open or perishable food
Donations are property of the charities! Only GIU workers or volunteers with designated badges can remove items from the pods.
Abby Rampone ’17 is a communications intern at the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.