UO and local schools team up to reduce waste, serve those in need

EUGENE, Ore. -- (June 12, 2013) -- High school students are taking a class in real life as they team up with the University of Oregon housing department to move college students out of the halls – and serve those in the community who need it most.

Under the annual end-of-school-year event “Lighten Your Load,” UO students moving out of residence halls donate items to volunteers with Springfield Public Schools Family Resource Centers, rather than simply throwing it all away.

College students save space and effort while packing for home, and families across Lane County receive much-needed contributions. Through the last day in the residence halls – Friday, June 14 – volunteers are collecting clothing, household items, non-perishable food, laundry, bath accessories, books, furniture, electronics and more.

“There are two goals for this program – keep these items out of the landfill as a ‘Campus Zero Waste’ initiative and put them into use in the Eugene-Springfield community,” said Lauren Miller, director of marketing for University Housing. “Last year, students donated more than 20 tons of reusable items, including non-perishable food, electronics, furniture, clothes and book bags.”

In a new twist this year, high school students from Sheldon, Willamette and Springfield schools will work as volunteers, earning an hourly “wage” that can be used to buy donated items, said Janet Beckman, homeless liaison with Springfield schools. It typically takes more than 400 hours for volunteers to collect and remove all donated items from campus.

FOOD for Lane County also benefits, because university students can donate unused “meal points” – a form of credit for food in the residence halls – to the food pantry. University housing typically donates more than $1,400 in beans, rice and other non-perishables through the program.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cooper, UO media relations, 541-346-8875, mattc@uoregon.edu

SOURCE: Lauren Miller, UO housing, 541-346-2672, lemiller@uoregon.edu

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with a point-of-origin Vyvx connection, which provides broadcast-quality video to networks worldwide via fiber optic network. In addition, there is video access to satellite uplink, and audio access to an ISDN codec for broadcast-quality radio interviews.