Find yourself in South Bethlehem this Saturday, June 1, and you’ll find yourself some incredible deals on some fantastic—and perhaps even unexpected—items.
The 21st annual Great South Side Sale begins at 10 a.m., and shoppers will find high-quality items ranging from a KitchenAid stand mixer and a spiralizer to Tory Burch boots, athletic wear and all types of household furniture, all arranged under a giant tent at Fourth and Buchanan streets. Each year, the sale features items discarded or donated by departing Lehigh students, as well as Lehigh faculty and staff.
The sale, founded by Kim Carrell-Smith, professor of practice in history, and her husband, John Smith, began with the two salvaging discarded but still usable items from dumpsters after students left at the end of the academic year. In its first year the sale netted $500, which supported the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. Carolina Hernandez, assistant dean and director of Lehigh’s Community Service Office, took the project on in 2001 and increased participation. Last year’s sale brought in $20,018, all of which was returned to the community to benefit programming for children in local schools.
“I think the growth of the sale says a lot about someone having a vision for what this looks like and the potential. We are so proud to be able to be the office that’s leading this charge,” says Hernandez.
Volunteers sort countless donations—furniture, clothing, linens, appliances, rugs, cleaning and office supplies, and unopened food—during the Move-Out Collection Drive, which took place this year from May 8 through May 28. More than 100 volunteers have filled five 24-foot trucks with items to deliver to the sale location.
“People are here day in and day out, helping us make this possible. It says a lot about the Lehigh family,” says Carrell-Smith. “This year’s Move-Out Collection Drive has been record-breaking in every way that it could be.”
Participation over the past two years has grown significantly, and Carrell-Smith and Hernandez credit a working partnership with local landlords. They note in particular the support of East Fifth Street Properties, which owns a large number of rental properties on the Southside.
“Cooperation between us and the landlords has made this a completely new program. It has tripled in size,” says Hernandez.
All unsold items will be donated after the sale to the Military Order of the Purple Heart through GreenDrop. Food donations—a ton of food was collected this year—go to Southside food pantries, and items such as laundry detergent are donated to local homeless shelters.
“We really try hard to make sure that every piece of donation goes somewhere and is utilized,” says Hernandez. “We do that really intentionally. Every single thing that we do, we really try to make sure it has an impact.”
Carrell-Smith and Hernandez acknowledge the City of Bethlehem and the many volunteers who work together to make the collection and sale a success.
“There are two days a year that I’m super passionate and excited about,” says Hernandez. “One is move-in day, when you see our first-year students and their families really excited, and you know that this is that transformative moment, such a memorable moment for our students. And the other is the Great South Side Sale. This day, for me, is equally transformative. You see kids, you see families, you see Lehigh students shopping. it’s truly a day where there are no words to express how magical and important it is for all of us.”
To volunteer at the Great South Side Sale, sign up here.