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More than a giant yard sale: Here’s who benefits from Trash to Treasure at Penn State

‘All out yard sale’ is taking over Beaver Stadium

The United Way of Centre County’s annual Trash to Treasure sale has 48 tons of items to be sold, from water bottles and water filters, to name brand clothes and big screen televisions.
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The United Way of Centre County’s annual Trash to Treasure sale has 48 tons of items to be sold, from water bottles and water filters, to name brand clothes and big screen televisions.

Trash to Treasure is much more than just a gigantic yard sale.

It’s one of United Way of Centre County’s biggest fundraisers — one of four special events the nonprofit helps coordinate every year, said Beth Shaha, United Way special events coordinator.

Money raised from the event on Saturday goes to all of United Way’s 28 partner agencies, which focus on education, income and health, she said.

Trash to Treasure, combined with the rest of Penn State’s annual contribution to United Way, makes up 40% of the nonprofit organization’s yearly campaign.

That’s no small amount, said United Way Communications Director Megan Evans.

“This is significantly a big year as far as donations, which is fantastic,” she said. The organization is grateful for Penn State’s volunteers and staff that help put on the event every year.

Compared to last year, where 35 tons of goods were donated, 48 tons were donated this year, along with 2 tons of food going to the Centre Hall Food Bank, Evans said.

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A table full of water pitchers at the Trash to Treasure sale at Beaver Stadium. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

Shaha said the event takes about a month to coordinate, with volunteers collecting the donations, sorting them and finally organizing them at Beaver Stadium.

“We’re grateful for those students who made that choice to donate to us,” she said.

Stephen Peluso, a State College resident who has been volunteering with Trash to Treasure for four years, said he enjoys working with the United Way team.

“I like the satisfaction of knowing that the stuff is not going to the landfill, that it raises money for all the worthy organizations that United Way supports, but I mostly like working with Beth and the other staff people ... very positive, very fun to work with,” he said.

The early bird sale runs from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Saturday, where patrons pay a $5 fee to have the first pick of the array of items, which range from name-brand clothing like The North Face, Patagonia, Columbia and REI to high-end appliances, flat screen TVs and Beats headphones, she said.

Individual items cost $5 each and United Way offers bags for $25 to stuff as many items as you can. There’s no entrance fee starting at 9 a.m. and the sale wraps up at noon.

“The stuff goes pretty fast,” said Evans.

Some people who come to the sale are also clients that benefit from United Way’s partner agencies, Shaha said.

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Volunteers help on Friday to finish the preparation for the Trash to Treasure sale at Beaver Stadium. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

“We have people that come to this sale that definitely couldn’t afford a lot of this stuff otherwise,” she said.

Evans said one of the misconceptions of the sale is that “this is stuff that students are just throwing away, and I think sometimes (people) get upset because they think (students) are not being responsible. But that’s not the case at all.”

Students choose to donate for many reasons, she said, like not being able to fit items in their car, or needing to pack light for an international flight home, or simply wanting to declutter.

“What I really want people to know is that (Trash to Treasure) is a community event, really, even though we’re partnering with Penn State, every person in the community is affected by the sale,” Evans said. “Because if we didn’t have it, 48 tons of stuff would be sitting in the landfill.”

Said Shaha, “It’s a great opportunity for our community to see us making a big splash, doing a huge fundraiser that’s kind of like statewide, but at the same time all the money’s staying here locally.”

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