Grad Bag Giveaway

Scarsdale Inquirer- August 12, 2016

At Let's Get Ready's annual Transition Day workshop, Grad Bag distributed a record-setting amount of new and lightly used dorm room essentials.  In a single day, Grad Bag gave away more than 200 comforters, 500 decorative and bed pillows, 150 rugs, 250 bunches of hangers, 230 blankets, 275 sheet sets, 150 desk and standing lamps to hundreds of incoming college students.

Founded in 2012, Grad Bag is a green initiative to reuse college dorm supplies.  The organization collects and redistributes lightly used items that too often end up in landfills and delivers them to first-generation college freshmen from low-income households.  Each year since its founding, Grad Bag has multiplied its reach.  The organization now operates in both New York and Boston, collecting from 13 colleges in the northeast.

To distribute the goods it collects, Grad Bag works with Let's Get Ready, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started by a Scarsdale High School graduate 15 years ago.  Let's Get Ready provides low-income high school students with free SAT preparation, admissions counseling and other support services needed to gain admission to and graduate from college.  Volunteer college students, who also serve as role models and mentors, provide services.

Tara Tyberg and Liz Gruber founded Grad Bag in 2012.  When moving their children out of their college rooms, they realized there were many dorm room items college kids have no use for once they've graduated but that are in fine condition.  The pair contacted their friends and neighbors--parents of recent college graduates--to gather items that could be reused. 

At each of two community folds, 30 to 40 volunteers from Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale Synagogue and the greater community fold and package sheets, comforters, blankets, and towels.

Since 2013, Westchester Reform Temple has been Grad Bag's partner and New York home; it allows Grad Bag to use many empty classrooms over the summer months for the work of getting everything in close-to-new condition that's ready to distribute.  The very generous donations of laundering and trucking make it possible for this grass-roots effort to exist.