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Saint Mary’s hosts a donation drive for free store in the basement of Le Mans Hall

| Friday, April 5, 2019

Saint Mary’s College just concluded a week-long donation drive for its free store located in the basement of Le Mans Hall.

The annual drive serves to remind students that the free store is a valuable resource — both as a donation site and economical shopping center.

Now a junior at Saint Mary’s, ministry assistant Nicole Popow said, “The free store reminds me a lot of Goodwill. Students can donate things and then students that are in need of certain items can also sift through the store and take what they need for free.”

Recently, Popow, along with the other ministry assistants, have been working to make the store more appealing to students.

“It’s a nice space,” Popow said. “We did a lot of work this year in cleaning it out which has made it a lot more accessible. We staff the free store at specific hours, and while there was a specific drive during this month, the store is open all year and people can give all year as well.”

The drive encourages students to donate by facilitating the transportation of items, Popow said.

“The ministry assistants in each dorm building advertised for the drive and we put bins in the lobby or by the front desk and we just asked people to bring their unwanted goods there,” she said. 

Rather than having to trek between dorms with an armful of clothing or books, students are simply a short elevator ride away from dropping off their donations.

“The ministry assistants bring everything over,” Popow said. “Usually we ask people to donate in Le Mans, which isn’t always convenient for everyone so this is a good incentive to donate.”

The majority of donations which stock the free store throughout the year come from this drive, Popow said.

“We normally get donations throughout the year,” Popow said. “But this is the time when we get the bulk of our donations.”

Popow said this year the drive was very successful.

“We had a good number of people donate. It kind of fluctuates depending on the time of year, how much advertising we do, and how much people actually give, and in years past, it’s actually been kind of hit-or-miss,” Popow said. “But it’s been really good this year.”

For students who missed this drive and are reluctant to make the journey to Le Mans, another opportunity is coming soon.

Popow said, “At the end of the year, we’re doing a mega version of this drive called ‘Blue to New’. It takes place when people are moving out and have a lot of useful stuff that they don’t want to take with them and would usually throw away. So we do a drive for that as well.”

In terms of what sort of donations are accepted, anything that is not garbage or impossible to reuse is a welcome addition to the store.

“Sometimes we even get textbooks,” Popow said. “It’s just a great resource if students need anything from clothes to notebooks and folders. Instead of going to the bookstore, come to the free store!”

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