State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Volunteers Needed for Annual Trash To Treasure Sale

by on May 04, 2014 6:30 AM

They say that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Thanks to volunteers at Penn State, the annual "Trash to Treasure" sale has resulted in more than half a million dollars in treasure, benefiting Centre County United Way.

For the past twelve years, Office of Physical Plant employees and United Way volunteers collect gently used items from the residence halls and transport them to the sale location, where they are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Saturday, May 31, the 13th annual sale will take place at Beaver Stadium. Last year, the event raised over $60 thousand dollars with the sale of a whopping 76.5 tons of donations.

Thousands of shoppers visit each year, including over 2,000 who pay the $5 "early-bird" admission fee to get a sneak peek at the donated items. Anything from clothing, appliances, and furniture to electronics and office supplies (and one year, a Sasquatch costume) can be found, and you can be rest assured you're getting a good deal. Prices are reviewed annually for fairness, and often compared against local yard sale prices.

According to Meg Evans, communications and event coordinator, the sale benefits "many segments" of the community. First, it benefits Penn State, helping the university's "zero waste" initiative by keeping tons of waste out of landfills. Second, it benefits the students, affording them the opportunity to donate items that might otherwise be lost, forgotten, or thrown away. Third, it benefits the local community, giving people the opportunity to purchase usable items at a very low cost.

But most importantly, it benefits the United Way and its partner agencies, including The Arc of Centre County, Bridge of Hope, Centre County Women's Resource Center, Centre Homecare, Easter Seals, Housing Transitions, Strawberry Fields, and the YMCA.

The sorting of donated items is a major undertaking, requiring help from over 500 community and campus volunteers. After collecting items from residence halls, volunteers set up 400 tables in preparation for sorting the nearly seventy tons of items, beginning at Lion Surplus on May 10. Items are placed into different "departments", such as clothes, toys, etc., to make shopping easier.

"It's hard for people to picture seventy tons of goods dropped off, and it having to be sorted," says Evans. "You can imagine how intense this whole process is."

Volunteers work in shifts throughout the month of May to prepare for the day of the big sale, often taking time out of their busy end-of-the-semester schedule to participate. As such, more volunteers are welcome to lend a hand to help lighten the load.

"We need all of the help we can get to be ready for sale day," says Beth Shaha, United Way's special projects coordinator. "We are encouraging individuals, groups, organizations and families to volunteer a few hours of their time to help with this great event."

There's one week less to get ready this year, thanks to Penn State's graduation schedule. And that means volunteers are in especially high demand this time around. To view the volunteer schedule and sign-up, visit

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C.J. Doon is a frequent contributor to Onward State and is a former intern. A Long Island native, Doon is studying print journalism at Penn State.
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