For 14 years, Lehigh’s Move-Out collection drive and the Great South Side Sale that follows have been collectively considered one of the university’s most successful community service programs. This year is no exception, with the June 2nd Great South Side Sale raising more than $16,000 and besting last year’s record profits by more than $2,000.
“It was a huge success,” says Kim Carrell-Smith, a professor of practice in the history department and community activist. “By the time the sale started at 10 a.m., we had people waiting in a line that stretched four blocks long. Some waited as long as two hours.”
Carrell-Smith is quick to credit the efforts of many others, particularly Carolina Hernandez, Lehigh’s director of community service, who built the program into its current substantial size and structure, and whose office coordinates the donation process and sale every year.
“David Joseph, director of Lehigh’s Student Auxiliary Services, was also a huge part of the sale, as he is every year—volunteering his time, arranging for a crew to help load the goods in trucks the day before the sale, and generously providing the funding for the giant sale tent from his budget,” she says.
Carrell-Smith also lauded Josh Leight, the Community Service Office graduate assistant, for his expert organizational skills, including scheduling dozens of volunteers for the sale preparation and the sale day itself.
“So many generous folks helped to make this project come together. We had more than 60 volunteers for the day of the sale, many of whom worked all day,” she says. “Lehigh’s President Alice Gast took a four-hour shift and we had a core team of six students and five faculty and staff who worked more than 12 hours on Saturday alone, beginning at 6 a.m. This program would not be such a success without their efforts.”
In a new twist this year, Carrell-Smith says that Lehigh provided shopping vouchers for three South Side families who lost everything in separate fires last month. The university also provided vouchers for much-needed household supplies to a fourth family impacted by a house fire.
“They came to the sale on Saturday to use their vouchers, and it was very rewarding to see them find what they needed,” Carrell-Smith says. “This program is a great way to prevent all these items from ending up in a landfill. Instead, they go back into the community, and the funds raised continue to help local children.”
The project started 14 years ago when Carrell-Smith and her husband and fellow history professor, John Smith, took note of the items discarded by departing students at the end of the academic year. The couple organized a drive to collect, sort and price the items, and funnel them back into the community at rock-bottom prices.
All of the funds raised from the sale go to support homework clubs and youth programs for South Side children. That initial drive netted only $500, Carrell-Smith says, but established the foundation for the program’s ongoing success.