University of Maryland: Residence Hall Essentials Get New Lease on Life at Campus ‘ReStore’

The move into your first off-campus apartment doesn’t need to detour to the dump.

Sure, it might be lights out for your multicolored floor lamp in your new digs, or lowered expectations for plastic bed risers. But Terps living in residence halls next fall could find that décor to die for.

The Department of Resident Life this week is expanding a pilot program called the Terp to Terp Campus ReStore, collecting small appliances, room accessories, kitchen items and school supplies to pass on to other UMD students for free.

“It’s great for everybody, not just folks with financial insecurity. We’re creating a culture of reuse,” said Lisa Alexander, coordinator of sustainability programs for Res Life.

It supplements Res Life’s nearly two-decade-old Terps Move Out Donation Drive (formerly called Trash to Treasure), which collects students’ gently used goods at the end of each school year and donates them to local nonprofits.

Starting tomorrow until May 18, students can put items in good condition in bins, available at most residence halls. Items that the ReStore can keep will be collected for fellow students, while others will continue to be given to GreenDrop.

Working for Res Life over the last 15 years, Alexander always heard the same refrain from her residents: “I wish we could get these things back in the hands of students.”

But there was never the space or the staff to sort, store and give away items. During the pandemic, however, a storage space opened in Harford Hall. Alexander started collecting donations during Spring 2021 move-out, and during Summer 2021, offered select groups, such as Fostering Terps Success, international students and graduate students the opportunity to shop and give feedback on the selection.

“Students said they were surprised by the variety, and some came back multiple times because they couldn’t carry it all,” since students are required to transport all items themselves.

The most popular items are kitchen essentials, so the ReStore now partners with the Campus Pantry to offer a selection of utensils, pots or baking pans alongside its free produce and groceries at South Campus Dining Hall. Other sought-after products include lamps, vacuums and storage solutions. Throughout the school year, the ReStore also takes donations from UMD community members, who can leave items at the Campus Pantry or coordinate with Alexander.

For now, making an appointment with Alexander is also the only way to check out the ReStore in Harford Hall. She’s advertised largely through word of mouth to keep things manageable, though a Diamondback article late in the fall got more students interested. Now, she’s created social media pages to broaden the ReStore’s reach, and hopes to expand significantly beyond the 30 or so students who shopped during the 2021-22 school year.

She’s applying for a grant from the Sustainability Fund to hire one or two students to expand the ReStore’s reach and hours, and plans to offer “open shops” on nice days when items can be displayed outside, so students can browse without an appointment.

“I think there are a lot of students interested, but there’s still a stigma around this sense of being in need,” Alexander said.

Comments are closed.