Dump and Run has taken place through the University YMCA every year since 2001. The goals of this event are to reduce litter as well as the amount of waste that ends up in landfills every year by giving people an easy way to get rid of things they no longer need. Community members and students alike are encouraged to donate unwanted, lightly used items to this event as opposed to throwing them away. Not only does this event prevent large amounts of waste ending up in landfills every year, it also lowers dumping costs for University Certified Housing as well as apartment complexes in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The collection takes place around the beginning of May, at the end of the spring semester and spring-cleaning season. Items are dropped off at the Y, or requests can be made for pickup of larger items such as bikes and furniture. Then, these collected items get recycled back into the community through a big sale held right as the fall semester of the following school year begins. This year the sale will be held on the 25th and 26th of August at the Stock Pavilion.

They accept a wide variety of objects, from furniture and electronics to artwork and CD’s, and then volunteers begin the task of sorting through the collected items to get them ready for the sale. 

Photo by Megan Flowers

If you’re interested in getting a first look at the things going up for sale in August, a super easy way to get first dibs is to volunteer with collection for this event. Signing up is easy and can be done on the YMCA website, and after only 6 hours of volunteering, you can shop at the presale in August. Plus, the collection and sale rely entirely on the work of volunteers, so getting involved means playing a crucial role in making the biggest recycling event in Champaign-Urbana a reality.

Volunteers are responsible for all sorts of adventures, like searching through dorms to find left-behind items that could be sold in the fall. In addition, they get to help look through items that get donated and organize them into neat (more or less neat, there are lots of donations!) piles so that they can easily be stored for the summer. They decide which man's trash will become another man's treasure by going through donations and figuring out what is fit to be re-sold at the big sale.

Going on the dorms-scavenger-hunt and sifting through donated objects aren’t the only perks to being a volunteer. People also often bring in snacks for the volunteers during the workday, which is anything from popcorn to homemade brownies. 

The number of donations brought in by the community is absolutely astounding. As multiple rooms at the YMCA get filled with found and donated items, there is less waste and litter polluting Champaign-Urbana. Without help from both the volunteers and the people of the community donating, this event would not be able to make the huge environmental impact that it does.

Photo by Megan Flowers

One unfortunate reality to the yearly collection is the stuff that just can't be recycled, given away, or sold. A common item is the foam mattress pads that many students use for less than comfortable dorm and apartment beds. This year the Y received a large amount of them, and they will be headed to the dumpster, then onto the landfill. Something to consider when thinking about making that purchase.

Dump and Run is a fun event with lots of perks, from keeping nearly 25 tons of waste out of landfills to providing inexpensive goods to the community at the Big Sale in August. It is an event for the people and by the people, based entirely on volunteer contributions and donations from the public, and it's vital to keeping Champaign-Urbana as clean and green as can be.

Volunteers are still needed throughout the month of May. You can sign up here.

Photos by Serina Tajula except where noted.