Scarsdale 10583: The Grad Bag Story: Out with the Old, In with the Old!
At colleges everywhere, dumpsters are filled with used but still usable items. Desk lamps, sheets, comforters, rugs, laundry bags, hampers, fans, and blankets are thrown away. This is where Grad Bag comes in. We collect, clean, package, store and redistribute dorm room items to soon-to-be college students who might not have the means to buy these things on their own.
Liz Gruber and Tara Smith Tyberg founded Grad Bag in 2012. As we moved our kids out of dorms, we watched the amount of dorm goods students throw into dumpsters at the end of the year. Knowing how expensive it is to outfit dorm rooms, we knew that a sustainable project needed to be born.
We started Grad Bag as a small grassroots effort contacting friends and neighbors asking them to donate their leftover dorm goods to us. We cleaned, folded and packaged the goods in our basements. We brought the goods to an August college transition workshop held by Let's Get Ready (LGR), a 501(c)(3) organization which harnesses the energy of college student volunteers to act as tutors and role models, providing free SAT prep, college guidance, financial aid workshops and mentoring for inner city high school students. At the conclusion of the transition workshop, the students loved shopping for free, guided by older college students.
After this first successful pilot, Grad Bag has expanded to collect goods directly at colleges on move-out day including Columbia, Barnard, Fordham, Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, Wesleyan, CT College, Princeton and SUNY Purchase. In 2015 we started a pilot in Boston. We now have our "pop up" shops in Westchester, NYC, Boston and Maine. We gave dorm goods to over 600 students this summer!
This effort is only feasible with very generous in-kind donations and volunteerism. Scarsdale Village rises to the occasion every year to get the job done. We are thankful for the donations from Unitex Laundry, Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaning, Standing Room Only, trucking by McKenna Custom Contracting, and especially to our summer home, Westchester Reform Temple. Scores of Scardalians come out to help collect goods from colleges, fold sheets, unload trucks, and help students shop wisely at our give-aways. Project Grad Bag thanks all our many supporters.
To donate or learn more about Grad Bag, visit our web page at www.gradbag.org.