Items discarded by Miami students help Butler County agencies

Several Butler County agencies receive items from ShareFest in Oxford.

With a new Miami University academic year drawing nearer, City Council got a look at a successful ShareFest collection that marked the close of the last one.

ShareFest was started in 2005 in an effort to keep furniture, clothing and food not needed by departing Miami students out of the landfill. Prior to that, items were left at the curb for trash pickup.

ShareFest has evolved since then to scheduled pickups of items and is not limited to just Miami students. Any Oxford resident wishing to donate items they no longer need can go online to schedule a pickup.

Dr. Carol Michael, president of the ShareFest board, made a presentation Aug. 11 to Oxford City Council, calling this year’s effort “another good year.”

She said this year’s collection netted 154,273 pounds of donations — approximately 77 tons, which is an increase of 31 percent over the 2015 total.

She attributed that success to marketing which largely benefited from social media efforts.

As the collection date neared last spring, organizers did not have a location to use as a collection point, but Miami University allowed the committee to use Chestnut Fields, the parking lot at the site of the old Talawanda High School building.

“It was a great location,” she said. “It had easy access to campus locations and off-campus locations.”

She said 43 residence halls took part, with residents leaving donated items in a chosen location for volunteers to collect and load for transport. Off-campus pickups accounted for most of the furniture and Michael credited Andrew Wilson, of the city’s community development department, with creating three inventory sheets which made for better record keeping and tracking of donations.

There were 269 off-campus pickups, which was a slight decline, but she said there were few cancellations of schedule pickups and less junk and unusable items than past years.

There were eight recipient groups this year, including two which had not been part of ShareFest in past years, and Michael gave a summary of how those agencies were helped in 2016.

They were:

  • Butler County Children Services helped two families with items from ShareFest and helped two youth emancipated from foster care set up apartments as well as items to help 10 families around the county over the summer.
  • Butler County Success, which serves families at 200 percent of the poverty guideline, provided help to 44 families in nine nearby school districts, including 11 in Talawanda.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati, with which the Oxford chapter is affiliated, sold items through their ReStore and used proceeds to help two Oxford families and a total of 112 individuals through sale of 21 tons of items collected.
  • Lighthouse Food Pantry serves 400 to 500 families each month and used the sale of ShareFest items to raise $11,590 with an estimated addition $4,000 worth of items still to be sold.
  • Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries received $28,000 revenue from ShareFest items to be used toward efforts to provide employment and training services for people with disabilities and other barriers as well as veterans.
  • Oxford Community Choice Pantry received 3,905 pounds of food items, an increase of nearly 50 percent over 2015.
  • Preble County Habitat for Humanity—a new recipient agency this year—sold items through the Eaton ReStore and collected $300 from the sale.
  • Student Veterans Association of Miami University—another new recipient—supports students who are military veterans with resources, support and advocacy to help them adapt to civilian life and succeed in college.

Michael shared a quote from Chrissy Rolfes, Talawanda Success Liaison and member of the ShareFest 2016 planning committee.

“Thanks to ShareFest, I was able to provide beds for a family that was renting beds for their children, although it was an expense they really cannot afford. The same family now has a place to sit in their living room. Another family received rugs to cover the plywood flooring in their mobile home. They were also thrilled to receive a working microwave and silverware since they only had a set of three,” she quoted Rolfes as saying.

She said another family appreciated the addition of three chairs so that all members of the family could eat at the same time.

As part of her extensive list of people and organizations to thank, Michael noted that Goodwill provided storage trailers for the collection, allowing other agencies to store their items in them, as well, and also provided the marketing banner which was placed over High Street.

She also thanked council members for allowing several staff members to take part in the project and for supporting ShareFest 2016.

“Thank you all; a great year,” she said.

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