A stack of unused notebooks went in a pile of supplies destined for local schools.
A bunch of coat hangers went into a pile of coat hangers, which will eventually be bundled together in groups of 10 and resold at the OSUsed Store. A blanket went in a box of bedding so big a forklift was needed to move it, a box that will eventually go to a local nonprofit for resale. The blanket was followed by a set of sheets, still in their original packaging.
“It’s amazing stuff,” said Tom Radel, an employee with Surplus Property at Oregon State University, who spent his workday Thursday sorting truckload after truckload of items students moving out of the dorms were leaving behind. Much of the stuff is new, he said, with the price tags still on.
Radel next sorted a computer monitor into a collection of other electronics meant for resale at the OSUsed Store. Then he put a foam pad in a pile destined for the Teen Challenge Pacific Northwest. Some instant oatmeal went into a pile with other nonperishable foods.
“I have enough Top Ramen and Cup of Noodles to feed Corvallis,” he said.
Radel and the volunteers who helped him sort are just one part of OSU’s effort to divert items students no longer want from the landfill. In late May, OSU's Materials Management Department placed donation bins in every dorm on campus in late May and has been emptying them regularly since. This week, though, as the majority of students move out of their dorms, the pickups increase to twice a day.
Items from the bins are sorted at the Benton County Fairgrounds and distributed to nearly 30 nonprofit partners.
Andrea Norris, marketing and development coordinator for materials management at OSU, said last year's effort collected nearly 36,000 pounds of materials to redistribute. The work involves seven full-time staffers, 30 to 35 student employees and around 50 volunteers, she said.
“It really is all hands on deck,” she said.
She said the effort keeps stuff out of the landfill, helps the nonprofits who get the majority of the donated items. And the OSUsed Store is able to make enough selling items it keeps to cover the costs the university incurs in the program, dubbed "The Great Move Out."
“We see this as a win-win-win,” said Norris.
The university’s nonprofit partners include Linn Benton Food Share, Vina Moses Center and Community Outreach Inc.
Rae DeLay, the materials manager at OSU, said in the 10 years she’s been at the university, the amount of goods the university collects in the program has tripled.
“We’re still not catching it all, but we’re getting more every year,” she said.
DeLay said it is a way for the university to help students help the community.
“We’d rather they leave it behind for a good cause than it getting tossed,” she said.
For students living off-campus, OSU’s Corvallis Community Relations program is having a donation dropoff collection opportunity from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Grace Lutheran Church, at 435 NW 21st St. According to OSU’s website, students can drop off reusable mattresses, furniture, electronics, office and school supplies, books and kitchen/household wares, which will also be redistributed to nonprofits.
DeLay added that while Materials Management doesn’t run the drive for off-campus students, it does help arrange for volunteers to work the event. DeLay said that event, in its second year, generates fewer materials than the on-campus move out, but she’s optimistic about its potential.
"It’s in its second year," she said. "In 10 years, who knows where it will be? You may never see a couch on the curb again.”
Radel said items collected from the campus program will begin to appear at the OSUsed Store, located at 644 SW 13th St., starting during its regular sales, which are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and noon to 3 p.m. Friday. OSUsed also is planning a special sale with items from the move out from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 23.