In just four years since 2010, the University of Central Missouri (UCM) has provided more than a million pounds of surplus furniture and equipment to charity.
UCM is home to 9,500 undergraduate and over 2,000 graduate students in Warrensburg, sixty miles from Kansas City. Like most schools, UCM replaces dormitory, lounge, study, and reception furniture on a planned cycle. Consistent with school and state policy, UCM makes these items available to the local community through a surplus auction. But the volume of UCM surplus is much more than the community can absorb. So nearly every year UCM has hundreds or thousands of used pieces of furniture that need to be disposed of.
Until 2010, “disposed of” meant “discarded”. The University salvaged metal items like bed springs for scrap value, but the majority of UCM’s surplus went into the landfill: desks, chairs, bed frames, dressers, wardrobes, night tables, sofas, and much more. To Dr. Brenda Moeder, UCM’s Associate Director of Housing, this was a waste, pure and simple.
“It’s not furniture one day and trash the next,” says Dr. Moeder. “We knew there had to be a better way.”
In 2010, Dr. Moeder connected with IRN, and since then things have changed. As it does with hundreds of other schools, IRN has worked with UCM to match their surplus with U.S. and international charities. In the four years from 2010 to 2013, hardly one piece of UCM’s surplus has found its way into a dumpster. Instead, more than 13,000 items, over a million pounds, have been provided to charity.
In 2010 UCM completed three replacement projects, and sent more than 5,300 items to charities working in the State of Georgia, plus Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Sierra Leone. The next year, 2011, UCM captured nearly 3,000 pieces of surplus. Most was matched with the Christian Appalachian Project, which supports community development in impoverished areas across thirteen U.S. states.
2011 also saw the tragedy of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, just 150 miles from UCM’s campus. With IRN’s assistance to connect with local relief organizations, UCM rearranged their replacement schedule and provided several hundred beds, along with bedding and blankets to the Joplin relief effort.
In 2012 and 2013, UCM completed another five replacement projects, and nearly 5,000 more pieces were kept from the landfill. These were provided to charities working in the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America. On June 4, in a shipping container loaded for a community development project in El Salvador, UCM passed a huge milestone: one million pounds of surplus provided to relief and development organizations.
Congratulations to UCM – for their commitment, for their common sense, and for making a difference in the lives of thousands of people on three continents. As Brenda Moeder puts it:
“This is a program with nothing but winners. The University saves money. Diverting material from landfill is a benefit to the environment. And most important our furniture is provided where it is desperately needed, and will be used and appreciated for years to come.”