At the end of each academic year, hundreds of students look for a way to get rid of their clothes, non-perishables, furniture, textbooks, microwaves, cube refrigerators, or other items that they can’t squeeze into their cars to take home on move-out day. BC Clean, run by the Office of Residential Life and Facilities Management, provides a way for Boston College students to donate items they no longer want or need when moving out, making the process more efficient and providing aid to local charities.
“Basically we were charged, four years ago, with changing our move-out structure,” said Chris Darcy, associate director of Residential Life and Campus Ministry. “The students, we found, were leaving trash, were leaving personal belongings, not fully moving out, especially in our senior areas.” In 2001, a mandate came from Facilities Management and Student Affairs to improve upon the move-out program at the time, Clean Sweep, wherein BC student volunteers went door-to-door, asking for donations.
“We wanted to come up with a program that we felt would benefit our offices for move-out, but also to still keep the spirit, that Ignatian spirit of being able to give to others,” Darcy said.
Six people make up the core functioning group of the program: Darcy and Gerard Boyle, associate director of Facilities Management, are co-directors; Mike Lorenz, assistant director of Residential Life, works on operations and promotion; Robert Pion, project director of Facilities Management, works on promotion and program structuring; Joseph Simonetti, associate director of Residential Life and Catherine O’Conner, assistant director of Residential Life oversee the coordination of the entire program.
In addition, the residential staff helps with promotion, and the Facilities Management housekeeping, utilities, and groundskeeping staffs help manage the areas during the donation period.
BC Clean is currently partnered with three agencies that collect the donated items: Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts (HGRM), The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and More Than Words (MTW).
According to its website, HGRM is a “not-for-profit organization based in Acton, Mass., that provides household goods, free of charge, to people in need.” As Lorenz said, “They basically furnish homes for people who can’t otherwise furnish them.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul donates items to various causes, such as food pantries, thrift stores, emergency financial aid, and disaster relief, as described on its website.
“The textbook agency, More Than Words, they have a recycling program that benefits underprivileged, in-need students,” Darcy said. As the program’s mission statement described, these in-need students include children who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school.
“To these agencies, I think they think everything is important,” Boyle said. Almost any item can be donated, as long as it is in usable condition. Darcy suggested coat hangers, picture frames, school supplies, laundry baskets, linens, and appliances as potential items that could be donated. “And really, if stuff is in good condition, we’ll take just about anything.” Lorenz added.
Last year, BC Clean donated over 5,000 textbooks, 13,140 pounds of clothing, 2,100 pounds of food, 107 dorm fridges, and 26 microwaves, and the program is looking to collect even more donations this year.
From May 10 to May 19, students will be able to donate items via BC Clean. Designated drop-off areas will be set up for every residential building, and arrows and signs will be set up to direct students to the proper locations. This year there will also be a sticker campaign for the seniors, who can put the stickers on the items they want to donate and leave them outside for the agency trucks to collect. The trucks will come at various times throughout the two-week period-generally once a day.
On Commencement Day, the agency trucks will be stationed outside the senior areas for the whole day, so the seniors, who generally donate the most items, can easily donate what they don’t want to take home. “We try to make it as convenient as possible for everybody,” Boyle said.
Besides the obvious benefits to the agencies and those who receive the donations, BC Clean has had a substantial influence on the BC community, particularly in improving the move-out process and the state of the residential areas after students leave.
“It used to take us four to five days just to get the trash and whatever was left in the rooms out of the senior areas,” Boyle said. “And now, you can come back the next morning, and all the rooms are empty, all the hallways are empty.”
Damages in the dorms have also decreased. “What [BC Clean] basically surround[s] is challenging our students to be respectful, responsible, and leaving their living, residential communities better than they found them,” Darcy said.
In the future, BC Clean would like to implement a program for BC students to get involved and be able to volunteer in the process. The organization wants to improve its ability to collect even more donations and to continue making people aware of the program. The representatives also mentioned looking into ways to provide BC Clean services to those students living off campus, but for now off-campus students can make use of any of the lounges or bring their items directly to the agency trucks. Lorenz also described becoming a model for other universities in the area to help the program spread.
“I think it’s important to point out that us being a Jesuit school and whatnot, this is one way to be a person for others, and one way to take care of those around you,” Lorenz said. “And, any little way helps, and I think this is one way to show it.”
“I think it’s one way that we model what our mission is as a University,” Darcy said. “We’re just getting people to realize, ‘Hey, you are making a difference,’ when you go home. But, be respectful of your living environment, of course, but also be thinking about other people first. It’s ingrained in who we are as a community, as a Jesuit university.”