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Project Move-Out Returns

Project Move-Out 2012

Photo by Patrick Bradley.

For the second year in a row, AU turned students’ end-of-the-year extras into much-needed money and donations for local charities through Project Move-Out.

As students packed up their rooms in university housing during the first week of May, Project Move-Out offered them an outlet to donate items they either no longer wanted or couldn’t take home with them over the summer. Utilizing four drop-off sites across campus this year, including the central Pod on the Quad, students again brought some 2,000 pounds of items ranging from books and shoes to towels and clothes.

Housing & Dining Programs’ Laura Matteo helped oversee the event along with volunteer students and staff from Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability. Modeled after Penn State’s Trash to Treasures program, the coordinated effort represents another step in the university’s Zero Waste Policy and its path toward carbon-neutrality.

“We took that idea and made it more AU-friendly. The Zero Waste Policy came into play because it would be putting so much stuff into a landfill if we just threw it all away. Also, we just really enjoy recycling at our university. We’re the number one RecycleMania champs,” she says, noting AU’s recent victory in the nation-wide recycling contest for college campuses.

After having collected all of the donated items, Matteo and her team organized a community sale, selling to neighbors, staff, faculty, and other students some big-ticket items including two televisions, several gowns, and a set of skis. The sale raised $1,600 for local mentoring charity MOMIE’s TLC, while other items like food, clothing, and toiletries went directly to the Capital Area Food Bank, A Wider Circle, and other DC charities.

“It’s great for the community,” Matteo says. “The charities are always grateful for the donations, and the students are glad they have an avenue to get rid of their stuff. Faculty and staff are always appreciative that they can do some spring cleaning and be a part of something with the students.”

The event itself logged over 120 volunteer hours and diverted tons of waste that would have otherwise ended up as an unnecessary piece of the university’s shrinking carbon footprint. Students even donated scores of mugs to help keep the campus’ Davenport Coffee Lounge sustainable.

Matteo, an AU alumna herself, believes that Project Move-Out represents another way in which the university fulfills its commitment to serving the people of Washington, DC – a commitment that’s written at its core as a strategic goal.

“It really makes AU shine in the neighborhood, that we really care about our local charities. We care about our food banks,” she says, referencing AU’s year-round support of DC food banks through edible donations. “We care about our mentoring programs. We’re very devoted to community service at this school, and this is just another facet of it.”