|(From left) Director of Community Service Kristen Collier, Jessica McClish, class of 2007, Director of Greek Life Shelley Reynolds and Professor of Theatre & Dance Steve Reynolds collect goods from the Sigma Kappa sorority house.|
McClish initiated Wittenberg University’s first campus-wide collection effort to put to use items that students chose not to take with them as they moved from their 2005-06 school-year residences. The collection, which targeted fraternity/sorority houses, residence halls and off-campus housing, accumulated thousands of household items, including unopened food, clothing, furniture, appliances, dinner sets, bedding, trinkets, and gadgets that otherwise might have gone to waste.
A total of five van loads of cargo were driven to the downtown headquarters of Interfaith Hospitality Network, which accepted the charity collection to help refurbish supplies that are given to the homeless. Vans were dispatched three times around campus during the second and third weeks of May to pick up the items. As the month draws to a close, more donations continue to trickle in to the Office of Community Service in the Shouvlin Center.
“What made this campaign different from other drives — like one recently hosted by the sociology department — was the placing of bins on every floor of each dorm increased the response tremendously,” McClish said. “Even now we have people calling up the office asking what they can do to help toward donating. It’s been overwhelming.”
McClish came up with the idea while on a Spring Break trip to Nicaragua this year, where she and other Wittenberg students volunteered to build houses through an organization called Bridges to Community. While there, she encountered the scarcity in many people’s daily lives.
“You go down there and see how little they have, and you look around here and see how much waste is around us,” McClish said. “If we could only harness some of this waste to better use, through recycling, by not throwing away things, a lot could be preserved.”
McClish’s resolve to “take charge and prevent waste” was backed by Kristen Collier, director of community service, and Ken Irwin, reference librarian at Thomas Library, both of whom enthusiastically helped piece together a blueprint. Fliers, posters and e-mails were circulated across campus, and the Office of Community Service was designated as the central collection site from which vans were dispatched on collection rounds.
“We always knew we had the opportunity to donate some significant amounts of goods from what the students often put in the trash,” Collier said. “Jess was the spark we needed to make it happen.”
In addition to Irwin and Collier, McClish said contributions and support came from a wide range of campus organizations and offices, including student development, which oversees Greek Life and Residence Life. Each of the organizations helped McClish’s plans morph into reality. While Collier and McClish placed donation bins at the appropriate collection sites and picked them up afterwards, Irwin did the background work on the logistical hurdles imposed by their efforts.
“I am confident that we can build on this year’s experience to continue the program in the coming years,” Irwin said.
Next time, McClish said she would solicit greater participation from those living in off-campus housing, many of whom didn’t actively participate in the 2006 collection. For students seeking to help in the collection effort during the course of the 2006-07 school year, “the best bet would be to call up Kristen or donate to Goodwill and to constantly recycle, recycle, recycle, no matter what,” she said.
McClish, a biology major, said that her commitment to conservation mostly comes from her sociology minor, which got her “truly hooked to the service end of things, even in waste prevention. The goal of such drives should be to get younger students involved so that this could become an annual collection.”
McClish has recently been accepted to study in Ghana in the fall, where she also hopes to continue her commitment to volunteer work.
- Arundati Dandapani
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