The BIG Sale turns student 'trash' into cash to support local charities

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    Student Patrick Holder helps sort donated items inside Legends during last spring's Don't Throw It Away campaign.

At Appalachian State University, one Mountaineer's trash is another's treasure.

At the start of each new school year, Appalachian hosts The BIG Sale, a giant indoor yard sale featuring items donated by students or salvaged at the end of spring semester as part of the Don't Throw it Away campaign, organized by Appalachian and the Community Together (ACT). Gently used furniture, kitchenware, bedroom accessories, clean carpets, clothing and non-perishable food items collected from the residence halls are sold to benefit local charities and support their efforts in energy conservation.

At the 11th annual BIG Sale in August 2011, the university diverted as much as 70 tons of material from the landfill and raised $19,701 for Mountain Alliance, N.C. Cooperative Extension, The Farm at Mollies Branch and Uphill Ministries at Cherokee Cove, as well as an international service-learning scholarship at Appalachian.

The proceeds will provide energy efficient mini-grants to support new energy conservation initiatives at the organizations.

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members turned out for this year's BIG Sale at Legends. "It was a green program from start to finish, coordinated by our very own Mountaineers," said Kate Johnson, assistant director of community service.

The BIG Sale was started in 2000 by Natalie Knight, an Appalachian student who realized the large amounts of "trash" that students were throwing away at the end of the school year. She started by collecting items herself and donating them to OASIS, a domestic abuse shelter. When the volume of donations became too much for her or OASIS to handle, she contacted Dump and Run, a national organization that helps organize events like The BIG Sale on college campuses.