By Susan Dromey Heeter
Back to school shopping has generally been less than joyful in my life.
I recall tight budgets, nerves and the Jerry Lewis Telethon reminding me that Labor Day marked the end of my freedom. And Jerry, may he rest in peace, was always so exhausted, chain smoking, pleading for pledges.
I tend not to think of this time of year as particularly joyful. Alas, that has changed – this weekend marks the Trash 2 Treasures sale at the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire. It’s brilliant and it’s going on now. Today.
This is the third year of a sale where student volunteers have corralled all of the “stuff” that gets thrown out at the end of a school year, cleaned it up, organized it and re-sell it to both students returning to UNH and the greater community.
The Whittemore Center is filled with couches, dorm fridges, notebooks, books, white boards, staplers, cleaning supplies, book bags and even the bumper to a Jeep. Essentially, it’s filled with the things students simply tossed out last May.
Three years ago, students founded this organization to prevent perfectly good supplies and furniture from going to landfills. In fact, when I arrived early morning on the day of the sale, I met “Jack” of UNH Facilities.
As we scanned the Whittemore Center looking out at the sea of couches, backpacks, pots and pans, he remarked, “Twenty years ago this stuff would have just been piled up next to dumpsters – and then taken away as bulk trash. They’ve done a great job.”
Emily Haley is one of the volunteers at T2T and said this is her third year working at the sale. She shared her enthusiasm for the event and noted that “it gets better every time.” When I asked if this might be an event to which elementary and middle school students could attend she responded, “ Absolutely – It may plant the seed of sustainability.” Wouldn’t that be brilliantly joyful?
I met Kym at the sale, a mother of an incoming freshman at UNH. We laughed as she lifted a purse and noted that there were three sleeves of unopened crackers STILL inside!
We giggled uproariously and Kym told me the only thing she bought new for her daughter was bedding. “The rest I’ll get here – why would I buy it new?”
I told Kym we were cut from the same cloth. And as she lives in the same town as my sister, Kate, I asked Kym if she knew my sister. Indeed she did and remarked, “I love Kate!” And, yet another commonality between like minded, brilliant women – love of Kate, giggles at bags with crackers and the joy of re-using, upcycling, saving the planet.
I always muse joyfully at the Trash 2 Treasures sale and invite you to witness the brilliance of the hardworking and fabulous volunteers at this sale. All proceeds go back to T2T and pay for the rental of the Whittemore, the storage units, the trucks to deliver furniture, the supplies needed to put on this massive three day sale.
The proceeds, however, are far less tangible than money, the profits go toward a smaller landfill, money saved, community and sustainability. Do check it out – or better yet – start your own Trash 2 Treasures in your community.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.