Don't throw it away... Give It Up! Coming soon to a pod near you!

Give It Up! (GIU) is a campus-wide donation campaign, which begins during Reading Period and runs through Commencement, enabling students to donate their unwanted items during move-out time to local charities and nonprofits, benefiting the local community and preventing waste. 

Student workers are hired to transport donated items from strategically placed storage pods diverting goods that would otherwise head to landfills. GIU is coordinated by the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA) and operates with financial support from the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives and Facilities, as well as logistical support from Campus Safety Services (CSS), the Office for Information Technology (OIT) and Alumni Reunion Rangers.

Our community partners are the First Congregational Church (FCC), whose volunteers also assist with the collection effort, ABC Clothing Sale, and Williamstown Food Pantry. Donated books are collected at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which graciously offers the use of their space for this purpose over a period of several weeks. From there, they are donated to Chapter Two Books (a local non-profit used bookstore whose proceeds benefit the town’s Milne Public Library), bought back by the Williams Bookstore, and shipped to Better World Books for resale or recycling. Proceeds from the Williams Bookstore buyback and Better World Books sales commissions benefit Nyanam Widows Rising in Kenya, an NGO founded by recent Williams alumni to prepare widows to lead positive social changes in their communities through leadership development, economic empowerment, and community engagement.

This campaign creates multiple “wins” for the college, students, community, and environment by reducing the volume of items left in the dorms and the amount of waste generated during the move-out process, while giving students a convenient way to donate their belongings, all while financially benefiting small local nonprofits. The last “win” of this reuse/recycle program benefits incoming Williams students at the end of the summer, when the clothing and tag sales at the FCC offer students (and community members) access to needed items at very affordable prices. 

Though a precise assessment of their value is not available, it is clear that donations from the GIU collection in 2022 contributed substantially to the late summer and early fall FCC Tag Sale’s and ongoing ABC Clothing Sale’s results, totaling over $50,000 combined. In 2022, the ABC Clothing Sale donated $27,000 in sales proceeds to benefit a range of local charitable and nonprofit organizations, including Louison House, Williamstown Food Pantry, Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry, Barrington Stage Company’s Playwright Mentoring Project, Community Legal Aid, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Kids 4 Harmony, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and more. 

The FCC now offers multiple tag sales in order to better accommodate the staggered move-in dates for various groups of students, including early sales for first-generation, international students and first-year students, then for returning students, then for the general community. Remaining items are then passed along for free to those in need. They also offer fan sales over the summer to allow students living on-campus an opportunity to help offset the heat in their dorm rooms, which are not air-conditioned. The 2022 FCC tag sales raised over $23,000, which their Outreach Team used to provide financial support to the Williamstown Food Pantry, Louison House, Berkshire Food Project, and Berkshire Immigrant Center. Additionally, furniture and household items were donated to three Afghan refugee families, nonperishable food items to the Williamstown Food Pantry, and personal care products to the Elizabeth Freeman Center and South Community Food Pantry in Pittsfield, and remaining items were donated to Goodwill.

GIU collected and packed approximately 125 boxes of donated books during the Spring 2023 collection, about 50 of which were passed along to Chapter Two Books. Books bought back by the Williams Bookstore and sold or recycled by Better World Books between May 2022 and March 2024 have so far raised nearly $2,500 for Nyanam International, and have accomplished the following environmental benefits through recycled/post-consumer fiber production:

  • Over 5,100 books (~7,000 lbs)
  • 83 trees
  • Over 11,000 lbs of methane & greenhouse gas
  • Over 51,000 gallons of water 
  • 10 cubic yards of landfill space
  • Over 17,000 kWh of electricity

Keep an eye out for the 2024 Give It Up! campaign announcement in the coming weeks! Check out the website for more details about the locations and available dates of the pods, as well as the list of items that can be donated, and start considering which items in your room might be suitable to donate!