HWS Donation Effort Promotes Sustainability – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Donation Effort Promotes Sustainability

The Colleges’ popular Community Sale has been transformed for 2021 into the HWS Donation Effort. This year, instead of inviting community members to shop donated clothing and supplies, students from Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Robin Lewis’ “Sustainability, Consumption and Commodities” seminar created a plan to redistribute items directly to community partners. Additionally, 16 student volunteers will help carry out redistribution efforts over the next three weeks.

In a typical year, the HWS Community Sale is held in the Geneva Recreation Complex. Student volunteers help organize and run the sale.
In a typical year, the HWS Community Sale is held in the Geneva Recreation Complex. Students help organize and run the sale.

The annual Community Sale, which typically takes place in the Geneva Recreation Complex, helps find second uses for donated items at the end of the HWS academic year. In the process, items are diverted from surrounding landfills.

This year, in order to uphold the tradition through the coronavirus pandemic, students in Lewis’ seminar teamed with the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning (CCESL) and the Office of Sustainability to help plan a socially distanced donation effort.

“Redistribution is important to keep items out of our landfills, to help community members have access to clothes and supplies, and to generally reframe the thought process around used items,” volunteer Emma Ibbotson ’21 says. “Helping with this project is one small way I can help people to realize that their used items are still valuable to others. I proudly promote the reuse of clothing and items.”

Lewis’ class set a goal to donate all collected items to nearby organizations to be reused or repurposed. To meet their objective, students connected with 20 organizations in Ontario, Wayne, Seneca and Yates counties to find potential partners. They researched past donation trends, created public outreach material and presented their final pitches to department faculty and the CCESL and Office of Sustainability staff in early April.

Donated items at the end of the HWS academic year include clothing, home goods, scooters and bicycles, books and more.
Donated items at the end of the HWS academic year include clothing, home goods, scooters and bicycles, books and more.

Clothes were donated and sorted as part of HWS’ Spring Day of Service in April. Additional donation boxes have been placed in each residence hall and storage containers established near junior and senior campus housing for students to dispose of larger items, such as futons, lamps and other home goods. The donations will be distributed to agencies ranging from the Salvation Army to the Geneva City School District.

Since the Community Sale was founded in 2006, the Colleges’ have raised more than $100,000. The funds support Geneva 2030, a collective impact initiative in which Geneva businesses, nonprofits, organizations and individuals support the education of Geneva’s children from “cradle to career.” The sale has also collected more than 3,500 pounds of apparel and diverted approximately 108,384 pounds of waste.

In the photograph above, students organize clothing in Hirshson Ballroom during Day of Service.