Each year, when homeward-bound University of Virginia graduates realize that the entire contents of their dorm rooms and apartments will not fit into a hatchback, “Hoos ReUse” comes to the rescue.
Hoos ReUse is a campaign that enables community-minded students to donate unwanted, “gently used” furniture, small household appliances and pots and pans, as well as canned and dried food and clothing, to local charities to benefit the community.
Hoos ReUse is divided into two parts, one for on-Grounds students and one for Off-Grounds students, with 19 drop-off points on Grounds and 11 off Grounds which are usually staffed, plus six donation boxes, which are areas set aside in residence halls for students to leave donations.
“We try to add a new location every year,” said Elisabeth Christian, a community relations associate for the University who helps oversee the program. “We target the students who are leaving town, and they really appreciate it.”
This year, approximately 62,824 pounds of materials were donated to Goodwill alone. Students donated nearly 80 pieces of furniture to the Salvation Army, plus eight large trash bags of clothing, as well as books and kitchenware – all representing a considerable increase in donations this year compared to last year.
“The support we get from UVA is invaluable,” said Mindy Boyd, vice president of donated goods for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. “The donations go into our stores in support of our mission of helping people get back to work.”
Boyd said Goodwill has been involved in a multi-year partnership with UVA that secures furniture, clothing and other items for the Goodwill stores. She said that Goodwill works with a few other schools in the region, but that UVA is the largest.
“We develop partnerships with the schools,” Boyd said. “This really boosts sustainability among the students.”
During the past four years, Hoos ReUse has diverted more than 100,000 pounds of usable goods from landfills to community members who will put them to good use.
This year, UVA partnered with local nonprofit organizations that included the Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity for off-Grounds collections. The charities collecting materials on Grounds included those three organizations, plus the Clothing Closet, Abundant Life Ministries, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, the Loaves & Fishes food pantry and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The biggest changes this year were increasing the number of Goodwill donation boxes on Grounds and cutting back indoor drop-off locations to make donating more convenient for students.
“The success of the Hoos ReUse program lies in the collaboration and passion of many departments, students and community groups,” said Nina Morris, outreach and engagement manager for UVA’s Office for Sustainability. “Although the move-out donation drive has happened at UVA for more than a decade, each year we find new opportunities to divert gently used materials away from landfills and support our community.”
Some of the charities sell the donated items through their stores, which fund their operations through these sales, and some of the charities distribute the items among their clients.