OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE OLD!
Graduation from college…
Everything has to fit in the car…
Who needs those extra-long twin sheets anymore?
At colleges everywhere, dumpsters are filled with used but still usable items. Desk lamps, XL 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 re-distribute dorm room items to soon-to-be college students who might not have the means to buy these things on their own.
We founded Grad Bag in 2012.
As we moved our kids out of their dorm rooms upon college graduation, we were amazed by the amount of goods that students were throwing into dumpsters. We realized that a lot of items that students no longer have use for were in fine condition. We were also well aware of the expense necessary to outfit a dorm room.
A recycling project was born.
Grad Bag started as a small grassroots effort. We contacted our friends and neighbors—parents of recent college graduates—and gathered items that would otherwise have been thrown away. We cleaned, folded and packaged all of the goods in our basements.
We formed a partnership with Let’s Get Ready. Let’s Get Ready (LGR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports first generation college-bound and low-income high school students through the college admissions process and beyond.
To distribute the goods, we set up a “store” of dorm essentials at LGR pre-college transition workshops held in early August. After the students participate in workshop classes, each student selects items from the Grad Bag collection.
Will it work?
We anticipated the reaction of the first group of student recipients….
They filled bags and bags with gear, loved shopping for free, were aware of the dollars they were saving, and left feeling well prepared for college dorm life. We were thrilled with the response from the students and felt great about recycling these still usable goods and being “green”.
We now collect goods directly at colleges on move-out day in addition to our local work.
And we have developed a strong partnership with Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE). YPIE parters with students in the district to ensure they are ready for, enroll in, and complete college. YPIE hosts a summer bridge program for their soon-to-be college students where Grad Bag sets up shop.
Who are our college partners?
We currently partner with Bard College, Barnard College, Columbia University, Connecticut College, Fordham University, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, SUNY Purchase and Wesleyan University in the New York area. In 2015, we started a Boston branch of Grad Bag and partner with Babson College, Olin College, and Wellesley College.
Where do we do all of the work?
Since 2013, we have been fortunate to call Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale our New York home. Temple Shalom of Newton, Massachusetts graciously hosts the Grad Bag Boston effort.
How many students do we serve?
In 2018 we collected over 14,000 lbs. of linens in addition to lots of lamps, rugs, pillows, storage containers, fans, hangers and much more. We geared close to 1,000 students for college in the fall.
Where do we distribute the goods?
This year there were four Grad Bag "giveaway” events: one at Hunter College in NYC, one at YPIE’s College Zone in Westchester County, one in Boston and one at Colby College in Maine.