Scarsdale Inquirer: Grad Bag Solves Social Need


Although Dean Trusty received a good financial aid package to SUNY Farmingdale, he still has many economic challenges to overcome. Fortunately, Trusty, a first-generation college student from the Bronx and son of a single mother, will not have to worry about outfitting his dorm room. Thanks to Grad Bag, an organization that collects and redistributes new and lightly used dorm room essentials, Trusty received full bedding including a comforter, set of sheets and pillows as well as a rug, hangers, shower caddy and a table lamp all at no cost.

    To distribute the goods it collects, Grad Bag works with Yonkers Partners in Education, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income Yonkers Public School students prepare for college. Grad Bag also works with Let’s Get Ready, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization that provides low-income high school students from Philadelphia to Lewiston, Maine, with free SAT preparation, admissions counseling and other support services needed to gain admission to and graduate from college.

    Joseph Martinez of Yonkers, who is attending a summer program at Cornell before beginning his freshman year, was an early recipient of Grad Bag’s giveaway this year. “Grad Bag helped me immensely to offset some of the cost when it comes to college,” said Martinez. “My parents are also very grateful, and I hope to one maybe able to pay it forward.”

    On July 21, more than 100 incoming college freshmen, who participated in YPIE’s transition workshop at Sarah Lawrence College, came to Grad Bag’s one-day pop up “store” filled with dorm room items—all without price tags. In addition, more than 350 students in New York City, Connecticut, Boston and Maine also received free dorm room items at other events. Last year, Grad Bag gave away more than 400 comforters, 500 decorative and bed pillows, 150 rugs, 300 bunches of hangers, 400 blankets, 500 twin XL sheet sets and 150 desk and standing lamps. 

    According to the National Retail Federation’s 2016 Back to College Study, students spend an average of $114.21 outfitting their dorm room. 

    Grad Bag was founded in 2012 by two Westchester County moms, Liz Gruber and Tara Tyberg, who realized there was so many dorm room items that graduating seniors no longer needed, but were still in great condition. Instead of having the sets of XL sheets and twin comforters thrown away or gathering dust in attics, Grad Bag addresses two social issues: ensuring that low-income students won’t have to stress about equipping their dorm rooms while recycling objects that would otherwise not be used.

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