Fairfield University students help local charities with trash to treasure project

Image: Fairfield UniversityEach year, while packing-up their rooms, Fairfield University students have gotten into a good habit of collecting re-usable items, and rather than throw away all of their belongings, students have been donating their unwanted things to charity organizations throughout Fairfield County.

The idea of not throwing away perfectly good objects like furniture, clothes, bedding, electronics, and non-perishable food was born four years ago at the university.

Wylie Smith Blake, campus minister for community outreach at Fairfield, said that students decided to connect with local non-profit groups to see about organizing a collection, sorting the items, and donating everything in working condition to several charitable agencies across Connecticut. "A lot of students noticed just how many usable things were being simply discarded at the end of the year. Most things being tossed had much life left in them," said Blake.

"Organizing and executing the project is quite an undertaking. The whole program takes place over four days, and students donate thousands of pounds of merchandise to benefit people in need in Bridgeport and the surrounding area," she said.

One of the event organizers, Kristian Petric, has been participating in what's called "Operation Salvage" for the past three years, and he explained that several student-based clubs on campus, along with players from the men's and women's basketball teams have been working hard at collecting most of the unwanted items. "Basically, when students are moving out, a lot of useful stuff gets thrown away. Students now have the option to donate their items, which they would otherwise throw out or leave behind," he said.

Petric, who is president of the student-run Community Service Alliance Club, said the university-wide program collects re-usable goods, and not junk, and all of the items are donated to those who are in need of assistance.

The senior from Mahwah, New Jersey said each year has been better and better. "Last year we collected an entire basketball court full of usable stuff. Most of the non-perishable food products are distributed to missions and food pantries. The furniture goes to help furnish Habitat homes," he added.

 Petric said that donation drop-off areas were set up in each residence hall, and after two days, items began to fill the boxes. With an estimated value of $10,000, multiple truck loads of items are scheduled to be donated on Saturday to various charitable groups including the Taste and See Outreach Ministry, Habitat Restore of Bridgeport, St. Charles Food Pantry, Bridgeport Rescue Mission, and Goodwill.

Along with Operation Salvage, students from the Community Service Alliance Club participate annually in numerous community service projects, and events such as a holiday food collection, and a children's book drive, continue to benefit Bridgeport area residents.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, mgregorio1@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 12, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 303

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