Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Annual South Side Sale raises $11,000 for local educational programs

Bargain hunters filled the tent at the 2009 Great South Side Sale.

They came early, waited for hours, and even set up tailgate parties in anticipation of the event.

As the 10 a.m. opening drew near, the lines grew, stretching around the block. By the time the 2009 Great South Side Sale ended at 3 p.m., literally tons of pieces of clothing, household items and even antiques were sold, raising more than $11,000 to fund educational programs for South Side children.

“It was insane,” says Carolina Hernandez, director of Lehigh’s Community Service Office. “We had 950 people show up in the first hour. It was record-breaking in every way, from donations to attendance to sales. It was an absolutely amazing and fantastic event.”

What made the tally more remarkable was the fact that the items were priced low enough for anyone to afford. Jeans went for $2, sweaters for $1 and shoes for 50 cents a pair. Pieces of furniture were sold for $5. Fans went for $3, and television sets—which were snapped up immediately by the eager crowd—were priced at only $20.

Co-organizer Kim Carrell-Smith found the crush of people spilling into the massive tent set up in a parking lot at Fourth and Buchanan to be both “hilarious and wonderful.”

She says: “People ran in—and I mean, hair flying, sandals flopping off—to claim the mini fridges and giant TVs and the rest. It was incredible.”

Organizers expected that this year’s sale would be appealing to budget-conscious consumers, but even they were surprised to see the number of attendees, and to eventually tally up the day’s total draw.

“We had just an extraordinary amount of items come in,” said Carrell-Smith, a professor of practice in the history department, director of Lehigh’s Community Fellows program and co-organizer (with Lehigh’s Community Service Office) of the Move-Out/Great South Side Sale project.

“There were literally thousands of items to sort and tag, and we estimated that we had 10 tons of clothing alone. There were also nearly 50 fans, 30 television sets, children’s toys and clothing, furniture, 50 floor and desk lamps and more than 3,000 pairs of shoes—some of them never worn.”

Lehigh’s giving spirit was on display

Brittany Powers, a graduate assistant in the Community Service Office, helped coordinate this year's successful effort.

The items were donated by Lehigh students through the university’s annual Move-Out program, which accepts items that students no longer need or want at the end of the academic year. Instead of ending up in landfills, the items are recycled back into the community at extremely reasonable prices. The money raised is funneled into children’s programs in the local community.

The university gave back in other ways, both Hernandez and Carrell-Smith agreed.

“We couldn’t do any of this without our amazing volunteers,” Hernandez said. “We had 74 people help out the day of the sale, and had more than 112 people pick up donations and sort them prior to it.”

Carrell-Smith said that one of the Lehigh student volunteers took his personal commitment one step further, by walking a large television on a hand truck three blocks to a buyer’s house, and then carrying it up two flights of stairs.

“That is the kind of dedication to our local community that this sale generates,” she said. “Lehigh truly gave back to the community this year—through goods, volunteering, and finally through the enormous proceeds of the sale. I am proud to be part of such a rewarding project, and dazzled by the level of selfless volunteering I see from students to staff to faculty and from the community. We really built bridges with the Great South Side Sale.”

Through this year’s Move Out, the Community Service Office is continuing the tradition that started at Lehigh 11 years ago, when Professors John Smith and Kim Carrell-Smith noticed the vast number of usable items being discarded by students leaving campus to return home each summer. That initial drive netted $500 for the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, but that number quickly ballooned to roughly $7,000 each year. This year’s tally breaks all previous records.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, June 09, 2009

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