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City’s Homeless Benefit from Student Donations

June 20, 2012 – Georgetown students and young alumni donated 10 truckloads of goods to the homeless before they graduated or left for summer break last month.

A joint initiative of Georgetown students, the university’s Off-Campus Student Life office, the Washington, D.C., nonprofit KEYS for the Homeless and Holy Trinity Catholic Church, the Spring Into Service move-out drive took place May 11-31.

Originally scheduled to last eight days, the drive was extended because of large numbers of donations from departing students.

Tremendous Response

According to Anne Koester, director of Off-Campus Student Life, drive participants filled a 16-foot truck from KEYS for the Homeless to capacity every day of the 10-day drive.

“The response from the students and new alums was tremendous, exceeding our expectations,” Koester says. “They were thoughtful and took the time to set aside usable items for donation, rather than simply throwing the items into their bulk trash pile.”

Valerie Johnson, president of KEYS for the Homeless, says the students donated an average of about $2,300 of items per truckload. Items in a typical truckload included mini-fridges, televisions, bags of clothing, mattress sets, chairs, dressers, end tables, suitcases and kitchenware.

Extremely grateful

This was the first year Georgetown partnered with Holy Trinity and KEYS for the Homeless.

Student volunteers, Holy Trinity parishioner volunteers, OCSL staff and truck drivers from KEYS for the Homeless loaded the donated items into the trucks on collection days.

Johnson says her organization sends the donated items to organizations that provide homeless services, such as So Others Might Eat (SOME) and Pathways to Housing DC.

She says families receiving donated items are extremely grateful for the students’ generosity.

Deep Appreciation

“[These families have] a deep appreciation for the care and concern reflected by [the students’] willingness to organize this drive,” says Johnson, the parent of four Georgetown graduates.

Although students don’t know exactly where their donated items are headed, nonprofit leaders are confident the items make a positive impact.

“I’ve even had people leaving the warehouse in tears because they’re just so grateful for what they’ve received,” says Greg Chudy, director of non-monetary donations at SOME.

Hope into Action

Students also donated 41 boxes of books to Books for America, which aims to build and improve libraries in Washington, D.C.-area schools, shelters and prisons.

Johnson says students should always donate items instead of discarding them in the trash because “thousands of people” benefit from their donations.

“This is the time when we, together, turn our ideals into responsible action, we turn our prayers of hope into very real, practical and sensible ways that reflect the values of our Jesuit education,” she says.