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Appalachian’s “BIG Sale” draws big crowds

BIGSale2010_t.jpgBOONE—Desk lamps, fans, clothes, electronics, kitchenware and furniture all received a second life during the Big Sale Aug. 21 at Appalachian State University. The annual event held in Legends on campus raised more than $15,000 to benefit four area charities and the ACT Leigh Lane Edwards Scholarship Fund that supports ACT study abroad service-learning trips.

Organized by Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT), the university’s volunteer clearinghouse, the “BIG Sale” is a giant indoor yard sale featuring items donated by students or salvaged at the end of spring semester as part of the Don’t Throw it Away campaign.

“This is a green program from start to finish. Sixty-five tons of material were collected during the Don’t Throw it Away campaign from residence halls in the spring and sold at this year’s BIG Sale,” said Kate Johnson, assistant director for Community Service with ACT.

“This year’s energy efficient mini-grants recipients are Western Youth Network, Mountain Alliance, Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center and Appalachian Child Development Center,” Johnson said.

“The Don’t Throw it Away program began 10 years ago when former student Natalie Knight realized the value of items being tossed as students left campus at the end of the school year,” said Jenny Koehn, associate director of student programs at Appalachian.  “She first started collecting items by herself and donated them to OASIS, a domestic violence prevention, awareness, and crisis assistance program.”

As the volume of items Knight collected grew, she collaborated with the national organization called Dump and Run, which helps set up programs to recycle items from students’ residence hall rooms. Two years later, the BIG Sale began. Its first beneficiary was the Watauga County Department of Social Services Foster Care Program. Nearly $3,000 was raised at the first sale. Since then recipients have included Watauga 4-H, Legal Aid of North Carolina, High Country Amigos and Hospice.

In later years, funding from the sale supported energy efficiency mini-grants to nonprofit organizations.

In addition to keeping 65 tons of usable items from the landfill, this year’s sale saved the university thousands of dollars in landfill tipping fees and labor to haul the materials to the landfill transfer station.  Shoppers, including students and local residents, saved thousands of dollars by being able to buy gently used items at a fraction of the cost they would have spent for new items.

Proceeds from the BIG Sale have generated more than $82,000 for local charities since the program began.