One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. This age-old adage was brought to life last Saturday afternoon with the debut of the first ever VSA Organization Yard Sale.
Eight campus organizations lined the walls of the College Center with a wide array of knick-knacks and clothing merchandise perched atop their tables.
South Commons President Rebecca Bauer ’14 took the initiative to contact all student organizations on campus and organize the event
The idea was originally conceived when VSA rolled out their storage space project, which is supposed to clean out storage closets to make room for new organizations .
“When we saw these storage spaces, we realized that there’s a lot of stuff from years past just sort of gathering dust and one good way to clean out the closets and make money in the process would be by having a yard sale,” said Bauer.
Many of the items for sale were leftover merchandise from years past. Houses like Jewett and Strong both had various tanks, tees, sweatshirts and lanyards from years before that they couldn’t get rid of.
Cari Goldfine ’16 from Strong points out, “We’re selling merchandise severely discounted from what the price was last year.” Strong’s tank tops from years past originally sold for $8 but were being sold for $3 on Saturday, a discount of a little more than 50 percent off.
She continued, saying, “I think it’s convenient to sell them here too so people can buy them with VCash.”
According to Goldfine, most of the residential houses on campus sell their merchandise for cash. The thought was that selling these items at the yard sale could provide more revenue for houses, since students are more likely to have VCash.
Other tables, like the Senior Class Council’s, had a more eclectic list of items for sale. Next to their clothing merchandise was a stack of Tinkerbell megaphones, VC iron-on patches, a Class of ’11 bottle opener and some plastic wayfarer sunglasses.
When asked what those objects were possibly used for in years past, Connor Martini ’14 replied, “Those were just decorations, I think, for some event and they were in one of these boxes that we brought down, and we thought ‘Maybe someone will buy them?’ but who knows.”
Among other odds and ends found at the yard sale were a ceramic piggy bank and a champagne flute being held up by a skeleton’s hand, found at Hunger Action’s table.
These random items were donated to Hunger Action for the local clothing drive they hold each semester in the City of Poughkeepsie, but since they aren’t of much practical use, they never found a proper home in the past years.
Co-president of Hunger Action Hillary Frame ’14 emphasized the importance fund-raising has for their organizations. She said, “We cook at local soup kitchens…we run a very large clothing drive, we buy toiletries and make lunches for a couple of transitional living places around here and give them out, so this is kind of raising money for that.”
Removing some of the dust from these items is not just a way for organizations to clear space in their storage closets and cardboard boxes. Saturday’s event gave organizations the opportunity to also raise a little money for the social causes they care about.
Hunger Action has high hopes for the money they raise at events like the yard sale, according to Frame.
“We have two possibilities: one is to go to our toiletries fund, since you can’t just buy things and give them away, you have to raise money for them yourselves, and our other option is a lady that we work with in the community who runs a food pantry out of her own home, so we often buy donations for her,” she said.
Hunger action is not the only organization putting their money towards a good cause. Tap That, the Vassar Greens campaign to eliminate bottled water on campus, also has a similar vision for the money they raise.
Katie Chen ’14 said, “We’re selling reusable water bottles, which kind of goes along with our idea to promote water bottle use, like to refill water bottles and use tap water, and we want to reduce plastic obviously.”
The Tap That campaign has had a presence on campus for the past two years, working to spread the word about misconceptions and myths of tap water.
Said Chen, “There’s no evidence that people can actually distinguish the difference so I guess that’s more of a visual thing where if you see it [from the tap], people suddenly have this idea that it’s not going to taste as well or it’s dirty but the thing is that we don’t actually regularly test bottled water as much as we do tap water.”
Tap That plans to use the money they raised at the yard sale to continue purchasing merchandise for the years ahead and to continue spreading their message for the new students that come in every year.
Not all organizations at the yard sale were looking to clear out their closets for the sake of spreading a message either. Freshman Representative of Jewett House Calvin Lamothe ’17 was selling both current and vintage t-shirts for a low price of $5 each. “I think we’re trying to have a little cushion for next year’s budget,” said Lamothe.
A lot of the traffic on Saturday was from the masses of prospective students visiting campus this weekend, which not only provided these organizations with the opportunity to raise money from old items but to also advertise themselves to possible students of the Class of 2018.
There are a lot of possibilities for the direction the yard sale has to go in future years and all the organizations have big expectations, including Bauer.
For a trial run, however, Bauer was satisfied. “I’d say the yard sale was a success. It wasn’t as big as I would have liked it to be but all of the organizations were really enthusiastic about participating and were thankful for another opportunity to sell their merchandise,” she said.
“I’m really hoping in future years it will get a lot bigger, but since we had to do it very last minute we were only able to get this many organizations…hopefully in the future the VSA will build on it,” concluded Bauer.