The most successful sale since the project started two decades ago netted $20,018 to fund community programs.
Since the Great SouthSide Sale debuted 20 years ago and earned a modest $500, the organizers of the popular program have had an unofficial goal to improve that number each year. Last year, the sale took in $20,000—its highest tally ever. This year, the haul was even greater, by $18.
That’s good news not only for the organizers and volunteers of the Move-Out Collection Drive, but also to the community programs that benefit local schoolchildren and which help fund Lehigh’s successful afterschool Homework Clubs programs.
One hundred percent of the proceeds are funneled back into the community, which organizers say is a primary motivation for the countless hours of hard work that goes into the annual project.
This year’s sale was the largest in terms of items sold as well, with long tables that stretched beyond a large tent positioned at the corner of Fourth and Buchanan streets. Despite the blazing sun and warm temperatures, thousands of bargain hunters lined up several hours early to purchase designer clothing and handbags sold at rock-bottom prices, lightly used furniture, household goods, sporting equipment and assorted items that included a drone, an authentic Martin guitar and vintage foreign-language books.
Part of the expanded inventory was an increased focus on collecting donations from students leaving their off-campus homes on commencement day.
“I am so incredibly grateful and proud to be a part of this program, and this year was truly special,” said Assistant Dean and Director of Community Service Carolina Hernandez.
Memorable moments include seeing families impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last September being able to purchase much-needed clothing and housewares at deeply discounted rates and learning that one person arrived at 3 a.m. to be the first in line—and then willingly jumped out of line to help unload trucks.
“The volunteers throughout the entire month of May were crucial to this year’s success,” she said, referring to the dozens of Lehigh students, staff and faculty who helped sort and price the donated items in preparation for the sale. “Several of them were also on hand to help at the sale, which ensured that we could be ready to go when it started.”
Kim Carrell-Smith, a professor of practice in the history department, said the list of those deserving of gratitude continues to grow every year as well.
“Of course,” she said, “the key thank you would be to (Executive Director of Student Auxiliary Services) David Joseph, who has earned himself ‘sale hero’ status.”
Carrell-Smith said Joseph brought volunteers water during the weeks they spent organizing collected items in Lamberton Hall, sent his crew to pick up larger pieces of donated furniture and help unload on the day of the sale, and volunteered to guard the sale perimeter and help patrons get their furniture home.
“Then he brought pizza to feed the volunteers at noon,” she said. “And at the end of the sale, when we were all faltering, David was there breaking down boxes and tables, loading up recycling and trash and driving his truck back and forth to Mountaintop to unload it, which is a humongous job in itself. Finally, he paid for the huge tent rental and the port-o-potty—both essentials that make the sale go. We don’t know what we do without him.”
She also credits Director of Custodial, Grounds Maintenance and Athletic Buildings Gary Falasca, who provided a record number of 130 tables; Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Kevin Livingston, who cleared the parking lot for the sale; Lehigh administrators Pat Farrell and Pat Johnson, who Carrell-Smith said were both impressively adept at selling rugs and furniture; Director of Student Access and Success George White; Community Action Development Corp. Director Anna Smith and Lehigh alum Estafania Perdomo, who served as a volunteer greeter and translator.
“And of course,” she added, “I can’t forget Marianne Napravnik, a Lehigh retiree and constant university volunteer, who at 87 continues to volunteer at Move-Out four hours a day throughout May, and then shows up at the sale tent at 7 a.m. to set up, and stays through our busiest hours till noon. She is not only amazing, she is the nicest person you could ever hope to volunteer with. And it was great to see community residents and leaders working alongside Lehigh folks.”
On hand to open the event were Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez and a number of other elected officials from the Bethlehem area.
Photos by Christa Neu