Every year, the fall semester brings a mass of students ready to set themselves up for nine months in the twin cities of Champaign-Urbana. They bring with them all of the temporary items that come standard in the dormitory sections of Ikea and Target. At the end of May, they pack up as much as they can fit in the back of mom’s mini van and throw out the rest. “Students really like to throw away useful stuff” says Emily Cross, of the University YMCA. I’ve seen first hand the items she’s talking about. Desks, chairs, rugs, books you name it it’s been in a dumpster outside of the Six Pack. WHAT A WASTE!
Some students have the luxury to throw out things that would better serve others. This is something that the folks at the University YMCA understand well. In an effort to reduce waste from moving students, the Y developed an annual event called the Dump and Run. Over the course of a few days in May, Dump and Run volunteers fill two semi-trailers with over twenty tons of would be waste from University Housing, all the while welcoming donations from community members as well. Everything is sorted in the Y value of their neighbors and how building trust can satisfy all of our needs. No need to look to Walmart – together we can kick the legs from under corporate consumerism. before being transported to the Stock Pavilion on the south side of campus. There, it is all stored for the summer. When students arrive in August, the pavilion is opened and the bounty of the collection is for sale. On Saturday, you can take advantage of low prices. If that isn’t enticing enough, wait for the Sunday Free Sale, when prices are completely tossed aside for what’s left! By the end of the weekend, Dump and Run organizers end up filling one dumpster with things that just couldn’t be sold or given away. According to lead Dump and Run organizer Emily Cross, the program was able to repurpose 98% of what was collected this year.
So what motivates the YMCA to take on such a laborious task? It must be the nice profit, right? While the Y was able to raise about $25,000 in sales at this year’s event, the amount of work that goes into its organization and execution is hardly worthwhile as a fundraiser. Emily, who is in charge of fundraising for the YMCA, made it clear that it would be much easier and effective to seek out private donations as a means to that end. In order for the event to go smoothly, she must mobilize and manage around 400 volunteers, each working at least three hours. A daunting task. “No,” she insists, “the Dump and Run is meant to serve the community and promote sustainability above everything else.”
Though the Dump and Run sale doesn’t turn away any customers, it does have an eye towards underprivileged students and community members. International students in particular are an important demographic for the Y. “There is a myth of an extremely wealthy international student,” Emily tells me, “in reality most aren’t well off and are doing their best to get by.” Providing these students with the resources they need to succeed and acclimate to a completely new environment is of the utmost importance to the University YMCA. Strengthening the community is one of the organization’s foundational values.
Though subtle, programs like the Dump and Run create intersections between individuals and the community. Through this waste reduction program, people come to learn the value of their neighbors and how building trust can satisfy all of our needs. No need to look to Walmart – together we can kick the legs from under corporate consumerism.
Article by Matthew Martinez | Photograph by Megan Flowers