UNIVERSITY PARK — Senior Miorah Grant comes back to Penn State for the spring semester with a few goals in mind each year: to excel academically and to collect a few more things from the annual Trash to Treasure sale for her off-campus apartment.
“It’s a great way to find some necessities for cheap,” Grant said as she was loading her Chevrolet Equinox outside of Fisher Hall on Saturday.
She left the Trash to Treasure winter sale with a 13-inch TV, a few like-new Penn State hoodies and a set of dishes.
“It’s not like collecting junk,” Grant said. “You can really find some nice things.”
The sale is held twice a year as a way for students moving out of the dorms to donate unwanted items instead of throwing them away, said David Manos, assistant director of housing.
Each item is individually sold for less than $10, or buyers can purchase a tote bag for $15 that includes all you can shove in it, said student organizer Zulaikha Ismadi.
All proceeds from the sale benefit the Centre County United Way, she added.
On Saturday, the sale kicked off the charity’s campaign, said Beth Shaha, United Way events coordinator. This was the first donation event for the local United Way, which helps provide funding for 34 other nonprofits in the county.
“We’re always overwhelmed with generosity,” Shaha said.
The winter Trash to Treasure sale historically raises about $5,000 for the United Way and attracts about 400 people from the university and the community, Manos said.
It all began in the spring of 2001 when Fraser Grigor, former assistant director of Penn State, organized a summmer sale. A winter sale was added about five years ago.
“He saw a lot of things going into the Dumpsters and brainstormed how to retrieve those items and sell them to be put back into the community instead of into the landfills,” Manos said. “Penn State was never meant to benefit from this so the United Way was the university’s preferred charity of choice.”
The winter sale collects about 4,000 to 5,000 tons of items annually, Manos said. For the larger Trash to Treasure sale held after the spring semester, Manos said more than 70,000 tons of items are donated.
The most popular items are electronics, throw rugs and vacuum cleaners, Ismadi said.
“When people come in, they tend to gravitate to the back and there ends up being a line for those items,” Ismadi said.
The Trash to Treasure sale is made possible through student donations and volunteers who prepare the semester before. Organizers meet twice monthly through the fall — and then again through the spring semester — to prepare for the sales, Ismadi said.
Ismadi said during student move-out, Trash to Treasure volunteers set up bins and bags for students to toss their unwanted goods.
By December, all donations are collected and organized by category.
“We’re helping the community and doing our part in recycling what would typically be tossed in the garbage by students,” Manos said.
The Trash to Treasure sales avoid about $4,480 in landfill fees and recycle about 42 percent of move-out waste annually.
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.