Just 15 minutes after this year’s Great South Side Sale opened Saturday morning, 737 people poured into the two 100-square-foot tents full of reduced-price items—from designer clothes to household items—donated by Lehigh University students.
By 3 p.m., five hours after the sale began, about 2,500 people had taken advantage of the bargains it had to offer. All totaled, this year’s sale raised a record $14,700, which Lehigh uses to fund the Community Service Office’s (CSO) Homework Clubs in the community.
The project started 13 years ago when Professors Kim Carrell-Smith and John Smith noticed the vast number of usable items being discarded by students who were leaving campus for the summer. That initial drive netted $500 for the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. In the past few years, Carolina Hernandez, Lehigh’s director of community service, has made the project one of the CSO’s biggest events of the year, starting with a massive donation drive beginning in late April.
“It is enormously rewarding that Lehigh has made this such a part of its culture,” says Carrell-Smith. “Students are so generous with their donations, and staff and faculty work so hard with community members to prepare for the sale. By sale day, it is overwhelming to see the crowds, the overflowing tents, and the happy families who walk away with arms full of great bargains.”
In addition to providing a valuable bridge between the university and the community, the Great South Side Sale helps Lehigh’s sustainability efforts.
“The South Side sale is a wonderful and meaningful initiative of Lehigh University that not only embodies Lehigh acting as a responsible steward of the environment but also serves the local community,” says Delicia Nahman, Lehigh’s sustainability coordinator. “This monumental effort diverts approximately 30 tons of discarded items originally collected upon students moving out of campus housing from the Lehigh waste stream.”