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Old to Gold’ prepares for sale

Kaitlynn Riely | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

For students living in residence halls, the last two weeks is a scramble to pass room inspections, pack belongings and study for exams. And for these residents, it may seem easier to toss the carpet in the dumpster or throw away that coffee pot on the way out of the dorm rather than find a storage facility or stuff it in a crowded box.

But for the second year in a row, the “From Old to Gold” sale offers students a way to donate items they do not plan to use anymore and do not want to store over the summer.

Last year, 54 tons of items that may have gone to the dumpster found a new home in the South Bend area instead.

Alan Bigger, the director of building services and the organizer of “From Old to Gold,” said he modeled charity yard sale after the “Trash to Treasure” event at Pennsylvania State University. Notre Dame debuted its program last year and raised over $27,000 for local charities. This year’s goal is to raise $50,000 dollars to benefit 38 local charitable agencies, Bigger said.

Notre Dame organizers, along with workers from the United Way of St. Joseph’s County, began collecting donations from each of the 27 residence halls this week.

“Last year the halls were really great,” Bigger said. “If I could make an all around applause I would.”

He said student participation looks like it will be more impressive this year. On Monday, Bigger said he collected a greater number of donated items from the dorms than he did on the first collection day last year.

“From Old to Gold” is interested in electronics, carpets, futons, clothing and unopened food, provided they are in good condition, Bigger said. Signs outside each dorm indicate where students should place their items. Bigger asks that students tape up rolled-up carpets, bundle and tie pieces of wood and tie shoes together to facilitate the collection process.

“Last year we ended up with ten thousand shoes and we had to sort them all,” Bigger said.

The “From Old to Gold” sale will be held Saturday, May 27 from 7-11 a.m. in Notre Dame Stadium. The sale is open to the public, but a $5 early admission fee will be charged to customers who want to shop before 9 a.m.

Last year, nearly 4,000 people attended the first annual sale. Bigger estimates 2,000 people were lined up outside the stadium before the gates even opened at 7 a.m. Tables and merchandise took up 55,000 square feet of the Stadium’s concourse, and all but four items were sold, Bigger said.

Electronics – televisions, computers, printers, and DVD players – were the most highly sought after items. Shoppers purchased every item from this department within fifteen minutes of the gates opening, Bigger said.

Bigger said he was amazed by the quantity of some of the items at last year’s sale. He said students donated two or three thousand pairs of jeans, as well as countless plastic storage crates and coffee pots.

“We would encourage people to give items that they would not have use for and then we could put them to use with other persons,” Bigger said.

He said the great thing about the first “From Old to Gold” sale last year was that it took items that would have ended up in a dumpster and recycled them into the local community. An added benefit of the sale is that the money raised from the sale of the donated items goes to charities.

“It was like a closed loop system, and everybody benefited, and nothing went into the local landfills,” Bigger said.

The Penn State program let students contribute to the local community in a beneficial way, Bigger said. He said he heard of people coming to the “Trash to Treasure” sale from over 200 miles away.

“The program tied the student body together with the community in a somewhat symbiotic relationship,” Bigger said.

Bigger said “From Old to Gold” does not seem to have quite a wide-ranging draw yet, but he knows people come from all over the surrounding areas and he has received good feedback about the program from locals.

“I think it really improves the town-gown relationship,” Bigger said.