Penn students help community with donations


PennMOVES collects donations from students and sells at discounted price




As students are getting ready to move back home, many may be searching for an eco-conscious way to dispose of their belongings.

PennMOVES, a program launched by Penn Housing Services staff in 2008, serves that need. It takes students’ donations, organizes them and then sells these items with the proceeds going to charity.

Each year, PennMOVES collects close to 90,000 pounds worth of donations from students across campus. Students who live far away or who are simply seeking to get rid of their unwanted furniture, clothing, appliances and other goods often donate to PennMOVES, said Vice President of Business Services Marie Witt.

Though PennMOVES officially started in 2008, its roots can be traced back to 2004.

“It began in a much smaller form around 2004, 2005 with some staff in Housing Services saying it’s a shame when students have to leave campus and can’t take their items,” Witt said. “They said, what’s a better way to repurpose them?”

Last year, PennMOVES started working with Goodwill, a nonprofit organization that serves the local community. According to Witt, last year Penn made about $25,000 from the sale of student donations that were given to Goodwill.

This year, Penn will partner with Goodwill again. Starting May 3, it will have donation drop-off locations all across campus which will be staffed by Penn volunteers as well as Goodwill employees.

The donated items, ranging from refrigerators to shoes to lamps, will be sold on June 2 at Penn’s South Bank, located at 3401 Gray’s Ferry Ave. There, anyone can purchase the goods at a discounted price.

PennMOVES has grown a great deal since its origins as an informal donation program, said Fisher-Hassenfeld College House Dean April Herring.

“PennMOVES has really grown from a grassroots [program] from people in housing to something much more structured,” she said. “Overwhelmingly students use it when it’s convenient and easy.”

By taking unwanted items from students and selling them back to the community, the program diverts a lot of waste from landfills.

College senior Rebekah Larsen, a student coordinator with the program, decided to participate in PennMOVES because of this sustainability aspect.

“I initially signed up because it’s one way to get a housing extension, [but] I also thought it was a great sustainability measure,” she said. “It really prevents a lot of waste and really gives back to the community.”

Students generally have found PennMOVES to be a good way to get rid of their unwanted items as they move out each year.

“I have so much stuff I just accumulate over the years, I don’t know how. It’s just extra stuff I don’t need anymore that I feel like other people could use,” College senior Angela Zeng said. “It’s a really good cause and a really good idea.”

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