No matter how high they set the bar, organizers of the Great South Side Sale seem to surprise even themselves with the amount of money they raise each year. This year’s sale, which took place on a sunny Saturday in early June, raised more than $23,000 to benefit Homework Clubs that support both Broughal Middle School and Donegan Elementary School. Last year’s tally was $20,018—another record-breaker.
“This day, this event, is about community—truly—in every sense of the word,” said Carolina Hernandez, assistant dean and director of the Community Service Office. “I am just so incredibly proud to be a part of this initiative.”
Hernandez partners with Kim Carrell-Smith, a professor of practice in the College of Arts and Sciences, to oversee the massive end-of-academic-year undertaking that collects items discarded by departing students and recycles them back into the community through the sale. Donations are also accepted, and sorted and priced in a staging area set up in Lamberton Hall. The items are sold at rock-bottom prices at the sale, which takes place under huge tents set up on the corner of Fourth and Buchanan streets.
Scores of shoppers lined up before dawn to wait in line for the 10 a.m. start of the event, which this year offered up thousands of items that ranged from designer footwear to garden tools. All told, more than 85 volunteers logged over 1,200 hours. An additional 75 volunteers contributed a collective 450 hours on the sale day to contribute to its success. Their chores included unloading five tractor trailer trucks of merchandise, sorting, stacking and manning the check-out lines.
This year, the volunteers were joined by Provost Pat Farrell, who helped sell rugs, and Vice President of Finance and Administration Pat Johnson and her husband, Roland, who sold shoes, books, toys and sporting goods.
Roughly 150 bags and boxes were picked up by GreenDrop after the sale, and have gone to the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Food donations that weren’t used at the sale went to South Side food pantries, and household goods that included laundry detergent and cleaning projects were donated to local homeless shelters. Local groups and organizations that benefited included New Bethany Ministries, Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem Community Schools, the Nativity Thrift Shop and Touchstone Theater.
And, in keeping with a goal of recycling every item back into the community, even soft textiles that could be used for bedding went to the Bunny Brigade, to provide comfort to a large number of rabbits rescued in Milford, N.J.
“We also served on-campus constituencies with things like books for the First Gen Initiative at Lehigh, and a couple of other programs,” Carrell-Smith said.
But, the organizers say, the sale isn’t just about the money raised and partners served.
“That’s all terrific, and it makes us really happy,” Carrell-Smith said. “But we also saved TONS of great, reusable goods from the waste stream, and we created a fabulous community event that allowed Lehigh students to give back to the community they live in. All customers could find great items that everyone could afford to buy with dignity, and in a kind of a festival atmosphere. It’s the most cheerful, exciting place to be on the first Saturday in June.”