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$1375
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Your donation will support The Ithacan's student journalists in their effort to keep the Ithaca College and wider Ithaca community informed. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

IC students lend a hand at second-hand stores

Ithaca+College+recently+hosted+their+Day+of+Community+Service+event+where+students+were+invited+to+volunteer+for+the+day+at+a+nonprofit.+
Maddy Tanzman
Ithaca College recently hosted their “Day of Community Service” event where students were invited to volunteer for the day at a nonprofit.

At 11 a.m. on a Saturday, some students might be just waking up, but for the student volunteers at the Finger Lakes ReUse center, their day has already started. 

Ithaca College hosted their once-a-semester event, “Day of Community Service,” where students can volunteer at a non-profit for the whole day. In Fall of 2023, the event was held at The Learning Farm on Oct. 12. This semester, the event was held Feb. 17 at the Finger Lakes ReUse center to conclude MLK week. The Finger Lakes ReUse center aims to reduce waste, create job opportunities and help save the planet in the process. 

At the center, 11 student volunteers made their way to the back of the store and were greeted with a warm welcome from Volunteer Coordinator, Sam Queen. Queen explained that they would be helping sort through items that were donated, clean them, price them and eventually put them on the shelves. 

ReUse provides an alternative to throwing away old items that will eventually end up in a landfill. Queen said that he started working at ReUse because he feels that society is very wasteful and sustainability is a cause he is passionate about.

“I’ve seen so much go to waste that doesn’t need to go to waste, and I think it’s especially important in this planned obsolescence economy that we’re in right now, to foster that sense of reuse,” Queen said. “And to give opportunity to these objects and items to go back into use.”

In 2024, society is continuing to see the frightening effects that waste has on the planet. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methane emissions produced by landfill sites are the third-largest source of methane emissions in the United States. The landfills continue to fill with more waste, only adding to our precarious situation. EPA stated that the U.S. generated roughly about 292 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018 or 4.9 pounds per person per day, an 8% increase from 2017. 

Queen continued to explain the programs that ReUse offers for the community to get involved in the repurposing of old items, like the eCenter, a program that refurbishes computers; Deconstruction, which breaks down suitable buildings and uses the materials left that are salvageable; and the Fixers Collective, a program focused on repairing items that are dropped off free of charge.

“One of the things I love about ReUse is our computer program, which refurbishes donated computers and allows us to provide computers to people looking to get an education, a job or just looking to keep up in today’s world for a fraction of the price of what they cost new,” Queen said. “[These resources are important because] it is terribly expensive to be poor in this day and age.” 

Terry Bovay, manager of customer service at the center, also helped guide the student volunteers. Bovay said she started working at the center out of necessity, but she ended up gaining more than she thought she would.

“I started working here because I needed a job,” Bovay said. “I had just moved in with my sister, and I didn’t have a vehicle to get to my other job. So I applied here, and I got hired. I’ve been here almost two years. I’ve come to really enjoy working here. I love the people and I’ve always been a people oriented person. Learning the things that I’ve learned here was really interesting. I’ve learned how to think outside the box and say, ‘Well, just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean you can’t use it for something else.’”

Queen said that the staff at the center all have profound appreciation for people who volunteer or support the center by donating or buying something. Queen said it’s important to have that dedication when dealing with an environmental crisis that persists.

“Ask anybody at ReUse what their favorite thing about ReUse is,” Queen said, “And they’ll say the people that I get to work with at ReUse, because it’s an amazing group of people who are incredibly dedicated, very hardworking and are dealing with a situation that literally never ends.” 

Colleen Barnes, the administrative operations coordinator of Student Conduct & Community Standards at Ithaca College, said it’s important for students to get involved with events like the day of service because they gain a greater understanding of the community in Ithaca and the impact the community has on it.

“As a student in Ithaca, you should immerse yourself in the community and not just be part of the campus, but also understand the community because as students within the community, you’ll impact it,” Barnes said. 

The volunteers headed back to campus at 3 p.m. Once they were back on campus, they engaged in a discussion about what they enjoyed about volunteering at the center, what they learned and possible future community service projects for the day of service. 

Junior Jordan Orlando said that while she’s visited the center in the past, this time she gained more respect for the people who work there.

“This gave me a greater appreciation for what they do and the importance of thrifting,” Orlando said.

Sophomore Claudie Ouk said that after volunteering at the center, there is a greater understanding of how necessary their work is and that resources like the center should be widely available. 

“I had no idea that they had a warehouse that was filled with boxes,” Ouk said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this does matter to people more than we think it does.’ It also makes me sad, because when I graduate and leave here, that’s not [a resource] that’s across the country yet.” 

After the student volunteers left, the Fixers Collective met and started to work on items that were dropped off, including a crockpot, a vanity dating back to the civil war and more. 

Bruce Johnson, a longtime member and cofounder of the Fixers Collective, said that what he appreciated the most about being a part of this program was that he was able to save something from being thrown away and the sense of community it creates with customers. 

“[My favorite aspect of being a part of the Fixers Collective] is to not throw something away. … We have that common understanding with anyone coming in,” Johnson said. “It’s just fun to be with people who get excited about learning; it’s a way to get community involvement on a local level.” 

Bovay said that while working at the center, she’s found a job that is understanding of where she is and meets her halfway.

“[The staff] know that family comes first,” Bovay said. “I’ve had a lot of jobs. And they always say, ‘Oh, yes, your family comes first,’ but no, they don’t mean that. This job they accept anybody. And everyone doesn’t matter, race, creed, pronouns, whatever. There is no discrimination here.” 

Queen said the center is grateful for the support from the community and is always looking for more volunteers because of the amount of donations the center receives. 

“We are fortunate to be in a community that supports this endeavor,” Queen said. “We are always and I mean, always in need of more support, whether it’s financially, or just volunteers coming in and offering their time and assistance.” 

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Jacquelyn Reaves, Newsletter Editor
Maddy Tanzman, Photo Editor
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