Buyers of discarded goods benefit non-profits, environment through Bates College Dump & Run

Bates College is one of a growing number of colleges and universities nationwide to benefit the environment and local non-profit organizations by selling possessions donated by departing students. Bates’ second annual “Dump & Run” sale takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2, at the college’s Underhill Arena, 145 Russell St.

As every academic year winds down, students rushing away to start their summers typically discard myriad items that are still perfectly usable – everything from appliances to zoology texts. Dump & Run was started in 2000 by Lisa Heller, a student at the University of Richmond in Virginia, who was appalled at the number of unspoiled possessions going to waste. Heller (who served as acting debate coach at Bates College in 2000 and 2001) organized a sale of such goods to benefit local non-profit organizations.

Now Heller’s Massachusetts-based organization, Dump & Run, sanctions similar sales across the United States and in Canada. Bates, Bowdoin and Colby colleges are among Maine schools holding Dump & Run or similar programs.

“When graduation day rolls around, many students are faced with one last math problem – how to fit all the stuff they’ve accumulated during the last four years into their sporty hatchbacks,” says Jason Wentworth, the environmental coordinator at Bates College and a Dump & Run organizer.

“The result is that students end up giving a lot of great stuff to Dump & Run that otherwise would have gone in the trash bin,” he says – for example, CDs, sports equipment, electronics and household goods.

This year, volunteers from two non-profit organizations will round up the items and conduct the sale at Bates. In exchange for staffing the event, Lewiston Head Start and the Justice, Ecology and Democracy Center will receive the proceeds. Unopened food collected from students will be donated to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, in Lewiston.

Last year’s event raised more than $5,000 for participating non-profit groups and more than 400 pounds of food for Good Shepherd.

“This is a great way for Bates to strengthen its relationship with the community,” Wentworth adds. Moreover, “Dump & Run events are catching on across the country because they keep tons of usable items from going into the waste stream.”

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