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Revived Give and Go Program Helps People and Planet

UConn community diverts over 8,000 pounds of donations to local aid organizations during move out.

You never think you have too much stuff until it’s time to move. Thousands of UConn students faced that same problem while moving out of residence halls this May.  

Luckily Give and Go was there to help! 

Give and Go is a program that allows students to donate gently used goods at drop off points throughout campus, which are then sorted and given to community organizations that help those in need. It diverts waste from incineration, provides an easy way for students to donate items, and supports the lives of fellow residents. 

Give and Go began in 2009 and ran until the pandemic interrupted. The program diverted more than 40 tons of donations over the course of a decade. Recognizing the need was still there post-Covid, it was revived by a trio of UConn departments: Community Outreach, the Office of Sustainability, and Residential Life. Sydney Seldon ‘25 (CAHNR, CLAS), an intern with the Office of Sustainability, played an important role in delivering Give and Go this year.  

“I wanted to bring back Give & Go because, especially this past year, I've been exploring how to promote culture change toward a more sustainable and just future at the local scale. I heard of Give & Go while conducting research for a service learning project in Fall 2023 which led me to reach out to the folks at Community Outreach (CO) to start revamping the program. We formed an awesome cohort with different staff members and students at CO, and my supervisor, Eliza Appleton (CO Graduate Assistant), and I went to work revitalizing the program. We called community partners, recruited volunteers, and figured out the logistics,” shares Seldon, who was the Give and Go Program Director this year.  

Volunteers were crucial for collecting, sorting, and delivering the 8,359.6 pounds of donations that were collected this year. There were over 300 volunteer shifts from May 1st through 6th.

Nathan Auten retrieves donated bag and guitar from Give and Go donation tent.
Nathan Auten ’26 (COE) collects items dropped off for Give and Go as students moved out of Hilltop Halls.

“It was great to see so many students involved as volunteers and donors,” said Nathan Auten ‘26 (COE). Faculty lent a hand as well. Shane Murphy, professor of health care economics, volunteered throughout the event. “I’m just really excited to get my hands in there and do something that makes a difference.” 

“I want students to be aware of the items they deem necessary and valuable to own on campus and to consider their lifecycle. I hope they wonder: What will happen to my mattress topper, fridge, or whatever once I don't need it anymore?” &#8212 Sydney Seldon '25 (CAHNR, CLAS)

Besides ferrying donations between residence halls and the central collection center in Ratcliffe Hicks Arena, volunteers also sorted donations based on their condition and the needs of community partners. Only quality items were accepted in recognition of the dignity of the populations receiving the donations. Recipients this year included: Opportunity Works, Covenant Soup Kitchen, Goodwill, Journey Home, Windham Area Interfaith Ministry, Midnight Run, Willow House, and Holy Family Home and Shelter. 

"Give and Go is so valuable to Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) because we serve people that are in the ALICE population – so that’s asset limited, income constrained, and employed. A lot of these folks live paycheck to paycheck. So by us getting the donations of these material goods, our constituents can come and shop for free. They can use these items to outfit an apartment and get clothing. A lot of the people we serve are coming out of domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters, and they can come with their lease to get the items they need to set up their apartment. By gifting items they need, it frees up their resources to pay rent, utilities, medical copays and to buy food,” shared Susan Hunter, Executive Director of WAIM. 

“We’re hoping to continue this next year and can always use more people to help – including faculty and staff. Give and Go is a great way to say goodbye to students, and a positive way to spend time with colleagues. We’re happy to work with other departments who want to donate their time,” shares Meg Marshall, Assistant Director of Community Outreach.  

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