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Discards from college dorms find new life at local charities

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May 25, 2008

At the end of her freshman year at Simmons College, as students exchanged goodbyes for summer, Laura Smith strolled the campus and was startled by what she saw: abandoned dormitory detritus - desk lamps, trash bins, and carpets - and most of it in perfectly good shape.

"Every week, the Dumpsters would be overflowing," said Smith, now a junior studying environmental science. "Students don't have the cars to get their stuff to Goodwill before they go."

Now, thanks to Smith and the Simmons College Sustainability Committee, students can send their castoffs to the needy instead of to the local landfill. Through Project Moveout, launched in 2006, Smith and the committee set up collection bins on campus and amassed 67 boxes of goods - clothes, food, and odds and ends.

Last Tuesday, they invited local charities to pick from the cache, piled in the Simmons cafeteria. An employee for Boston's Cape Verdean Community UNIDO picked up office supplies, while a leader from a Roxbury-based mental health program stocked up on blankets and pillows.

"We're always having to supplement our residents' groceries," said Marcia Gordon, director of programming and staff development at the Elizabeth Stone House, as she boxed up foodstuff typical of college life, like instant soup and boxes of macaroni and cheese.

For this, the third Project Moveout, Smith's group called on Dump and Run, a Brookfield-based nonprofit whose goal is to help recycle college jetsam, to help transport what didn't get picked up at the campus giveaway. Tuesday afternoon, Smith and Dump and Run founder Lisa Heller took several van loads of goods to Shattuck Hospital, the Renewal House, and Goodwill.

MARC LAROCQUE

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