WASHINGTON – This year, Howard University has shipped more than 184,000 pounds of surplus dormitory furniture to needy schools in the United States and Central America.
Tons of surplus bed frames, metal and wooden bookcases and desks, chairs, dressers and mattresses on campus were packed up and sent off in more than a dozen individual shipments. The project was a joint effort between the Offices of Residence Life and the Howard University Chief Financial Officer.
The effort coincides with a major renovation boom at Howard University. Over the past two years, Howard has undertaken a campus-wide Facilities Renewal Initiative through which the University has invested $38 million in several major projects. In addition, Howard spent $3 million to refresh all 13 residence halls over the summer. The changes include fresh paint, new carpet, bathroom improvements, new room and lounge furniture and the replacement of 2,000 mattresses.
“In an effort to support thriving communities and to be an example to our student body of being a global citizen, we found a company that has a similar mission and recycled the furniture in developing communities around the globe,” said Marc Lee, Dean of Residence Life. “Howard University is proud to have partnered with this organization to be a resource for the global community."
Across campus, Howard University is on track to complete a makeover of 400 dormitory rooms in 2012. In the future, Howard plans to update furniture on a rotating basis so that all pieces are replaced every five years.
To remove the old furniture, Howard worked in conjunction with the Institution Recycling Network (IRN), a Concord, New Hampshire-based recycling cooperative, and the major international charity organization Food For The Poor. Howard donated 2,296 pieces, a total equaling more than 92 tons (more than 184,000 pounds) of residential furniture.
Forty-six percent of the Howard shipments went to Guatemala. Both Nicaragua and El Salvador received 25 percent respectively. Four percent was sent to a needy high school in Rhode Island.
“These donations are making a huge difference,” said Angel Aloma, executive director of Food For The Poor. “Many of the schools in the countries we serve are using furnishings that are decades old. It is important to help these students to feel good about themselves, and having nice desks in their classrooms or nice furnishings in an orphanage can be life-transforming for many of these children.”
Emerson Lennon, project manager in the surplus department of IRN, said Howard University was one of hundreds of other colleges and universities that repurposed used furniture and equipment with IRN’s help this year.
“If you’re planning on throwing things out, it’s basically the responsible thing to do,” Lennon said. “People on campus get pumped up when they see they are doing a good thing and their efforts on campus are making a difference somewhere.”