Take It or Leave It celebrates eight years of student giving

By Leigh Ann Henry

Take It or Leave It, Baylor’s annual program [PDF] promoting the reuse of materials donated during move-out, kicks off its eighth anniversary starting Tuesday.

“It’s a giving back to the community program that started back in 2004,” said Vicki Pierce, assistant director of housekeeping at Baylor and unofficial coordinator for Take it or Leave it.

Take it or Leave it encourages students to donate furniture to local non-profit organizations in the Waco community instead of throwing them away.

“It’s a great way for Baylor to use its resources to give back to the Waco community,” Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor, said.

Pierce said she and Leigh Ann Moffett, director of emergency management at Baylor, started the program together, and this is the second year for the sustainability department to help coordinate the event.

“I saw a lady pull up in her Cadillac in the summer of ’03 and unceremoniously started pulling out garbage bags and looking through the trash,” Pierce said. “I started thinking to myself, ‘How do we get this stuff back to the people who need it?’”

The companies in charge of handling the donations are Caritas of Waco and Goodwill Industries International Inc. Caritas is primarily responsible for donated items on campus and Goodwill is heading up the off-campus collection. Caritas will set up large donation bins in the lobby area of each residence hall from Tuesday to May 13 in order for students to donate any items they don’t want to keep.

“That week we set up boxes and pick them up every day. We will accept any donations; the only thing we can’t take is mattresses,” Sally Norlie, warehouse manager at Caritas, said.

Caritas of Waco is a nonprofit organization that accepts donations and sells the items at a reduced price in one of their three thrift store locations: Waco, Bellmead and West.

If an individual cannot afford to purchase these items, they may go through an interview and provide identification to a Caritas employee. The employee who will present them with a referral, which will allow the individual to obtain free food and enough clothes to provide two outfits for each family member.

In-need individuals are only allowed to obtain a referral for food once a month and clothes once every four months, but they may frequent and shop thrift stores as often as they please.

“Baylor students leave behind a lot of good stuff; we’re grateful to them. That saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is so true,” Norlie said.

Two trailers will be set up off campus for Goodwill collections, one by Arbors Apartments on Third Street and one behind Browning Square on Ninth Street. The trailers will be manned by Goodwill volunteers to help students with their donations from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. from May 7-14 except Sunday. On the May 14, volunteers will be present all day.

“It’s important for students to realize that this is an opportunity for them to directly, positively affect the Waco community with very little effort,” Getterman said.

Both organizations accept donations outside of these days as well. Simply drop off items at their central locations in Waco and drop them off.

“We don’t recycle in terms of paper and plastics, but we do reuse those items instead of having them sit in a landfill … and we take the revenue generated in retail stores to fund employment and job training programs,” Shannon Kendrick, public relations and marketing director for Goodwill in Waco, said.

Many items are able to be reused through this program and help lots of individuals that are in need.

“It is a real substantial contribution to Caritas and to our community. We are very indebted to Baylor for their staff and student involvement. They’ve been so great to work with,” Buddy Edwards, executive director at Caritas of Waco, said.