The Value of Junk

It’s almost the end of the semester, which means just about everybody around here is about to become a nonbeliever. Soon nobody will believe how much work they have or how gosh darn fast the year went by. I can usually believe both of these things, but I do always have trouble believing my eyes when I see just how much junk we all accumulate in our rooms over the course of a semester.

Come move-out day, the garbage rooms (forget the cans) will be overflowing with bags of God knows what. It happens every semester, and it’s not all trash. A lot of times we throw out the things we don’t want or can’t keep: the old, the unused, the too-big-for-the-car, the out of style. Most of us can be grateful that replacements for these items await us at home. But many in Madison County and beyond could really use what we casually discard.

This year, the good people at the COVE are making it easy for us to turn our garbage into invaluable donations. During finals week, donation boxes at every trash area will be waiting to be filled with whatever we’re willing to give away. Collections will again be made on the Monday after graduation. The COVE is calling its collection campaign “Don’t Throw It Out.” Get it?

Everything put in these boxes will be redistributed to people who need it. Unopened food will be given to neighborhood pantries, books will be sent to an under-funded African university and clothing will be shipped off to a kind-hearted local woman who will wash it and mend it and deliver it to disadvantaged folks in Madison and Oneida counties.

The COVE is like a kleptomaniac in Wal-Mart: they’ll take anything. Anything includes furniture, unopened toiletries, small appliances, even computers. (There will be green stickers available to mark your donations so that no one walks off with your laptop).

Last year, the COVE got a few Prada bags and a car from a Californian Colgate kid who couldn’t drive it all the way back to the left coast. They do not expect everyone to be so charitable, but they do hope for a big payoff.

During the 2005 salvage drive – a more loosely organized version of “Don’t Throw It Out” – six COVE workers twice filled their offices with donations. This year, they’ve enlisted members of Hamilton’s Baptist church and a troupe of boy scouts to help round up all the loot. “It’s a huge undertaking in terms of manpower,” said COVE employee Julie Dudrick, “hopefully even more so this year.”

Before we depart for our summer spots, let’s take the necessary few seconds (literally!) to put our usable belongings in the box with all the green stickers and not in the teeming garbage bins. And we can still be nonbelievers, this time not believing how much of an impact we can make just by sorting our trash.