'Donate Don't Dump:' Students pass on items amid move-out bustle

University of Iowa graduations scheduled all weekend

University of Iowa students Emma Miller-Shindelar, left, and Kate Moon, right, on Friday, May 12, 2017, volunteer during a “donate don’t dump” event aimed at redirecting items from the landfill during this week’s residence hall move-out. (Vanessa Miller/The Gazette)
University of Iowa students Emma Miller-Shindelar, left, and Kate Moon, right, on Friday, May 12, 2017, volunteer during a “donate don’t dump” event aimed at redirecting items from the landfill during this week’s residence hall move-out. (Vanessa Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Hoisting couches onto a Penske moving truck doesn’t qualify as fun for most. But when you’re doing it on a gorgeous spring day in Iowa City, with the summer and all it’s possibilities stretched out before you and awareness the furniture will skip the landfill and find good home, it can be quite nice.

“It’s extremely nice,” graduating University of Iowa student Baylie Cooper, 21, said about being able to gift her couch and love seat as part of her move-out. “If we didn’t have it, we’d probably just take it to the dump.”

Thousands of UI students like Cooper were encouraged to “donate don’t dump” in their exodus from campus this week. In its eighth year, the program aims to cut landfill waste inevitable with the large-scale moves while benefiting local agencies like Goodwill and the Crisis Center of Johnson County.

Penske trucks have been parking outside Burge, Hillcrest and Mayflower residence halls since Wednesday — when official dorm move-out began — to take items like clothes, furniture, electronics, shelves, desks and appliances to Goodwill.

“We’re getting lots of full-length mirrors,” said Beth MacKenzie, UI Office of Sustainability recycling coordinator. “Apparently the res halls don’t have big enough mirrors in them.”

What the collectors don’t accept: anything broken or dirty.

“It’s the would-you-buy-it test,” MacKenzie said.

Inside the halls, barrels and bins have been collecting donations for the Crisis Center — including perishable food, cleaning supplies and unopened toiletries.

The program, coordinated by the UI Office of Sustainability and University Housing and Dining, for the first time this year accepted bicycle donations for the Iowa City Bike Library. Collections will continue through noon Saturday — when all 6,000-plus UI residence hall students have to be out.

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Since 2010, the effort has amassed more than 43,000 pounds of clothes, furniture, food and household and personal items for the local service agencies — nearly twice the total weight of all the players on the 2017 Hawkeye football roster, UI News Services points out.

This spring’s goal is to collect more than 10,000 pounds of donated items, according to MacKenzie.

“Today is going to be really busy,” she said just before noon Friday — as some of the 80-some volunteers lifted shelves onto the truck and checked out pants someone gave up.

Down the street from the move-out buzz, new graduates threw caps and posed for photos in front of the Old Capitol, flanked by cloudless azure blue. About 4,800 UI students are expected to receive their degrees this weekend in commencement ceremonies that began Thursday with the College of Pharmacy and are to continue through May 26 with the College of Dentistry.

Most ceremonies are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, including the Tippie College of Business MBA commencement, where seasoned corporate CEO and longtime UI benefactor Jerre Stead spoke Friday morning.

He lauded praise on the pool of degree recipients and offered some advice — get up at 3 a.m., exercise every day, and ask this question: “How do I help great people do really great things today?” he said. “I encourage them to say yes to the idea of the impossible. Impossible is only an opinion.”

Stead, whose philanthropy has landed his name on the new UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, acknowledged a successful career rich in diversity of experience and accolades. But he also expressed vicarious ambition for the new graduates.

“I am so envious and proud of this group today,” he said. “I wish I was 35 years younger because what you’re going to get to do with the world that we live in today, the technology that’s available for us today, the ability to be successful together is incredible.”

UI President Bruce Harreld delivered a similar sentiment in a message to students this week.

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“The University of Iowa is sending more than 4,800 talented graduates out across this state, nation and around the globe,” he wrote. “UI alumni are bright, industrious and inventive. They solve problems. They think deeply about things. They build things. They help people. And in doing all that, they make a name for themselves, which burnishes the reputation of this university.”

But don’t get ahead of yourselves, he added.

“For now, enjoy your time with friends and family,” Harreld wrote. “Take some serious photos and some goofy ones. Enjoy your complete freedom from finals.

“You’ve earned it.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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