Over the past six years, The YMCA at Virginia Tech has kept more than 81 tons of goods out of the local landfills.
Y-Toss, a YMCA program which collects gently used goods, works every year to collect items from Tech and Radford students that might otherwise get thrown in the trash when students move out of their dorm rooms.
According to the YMCA’s website, the purpose of Y-Toss is “to foster a culture of social responsibility at Virginia Tech and Radford University, while creating a more sustainable campus community.”
During spring move out, students can donate items they no longer need or want, which are then sold to other students during fall move in.
Laura Cohen, a freshman university studies major, was a direct beneficiary of this program.
“I got some furniture for my room at Y-Toss in the fall,” Cohen said.
“It was just really convenient and super cheap.”
Y-Toss has raised more than $30,000 for the YMCA’s community outreach and leadership programs.
Alternative spring break trips, tutoring programs at local elementary schools, and educational classes on topics such as pottery or foreign languages, are just some of the many opportunities the YMCA provides at low costs for the Blacksburg community and surrounding areas.
From May 4 to May 10, students can drop off items at any of the nine locations on campus: Miles/Johnston, Pritchard, Oak Lane, Owens Quad, Barringer, Shanks/Upper Quad, West Ambler Johnston/West End, Payne and War Memorial.
New to the event this year is the creation of collection points at off-campus sites; there will be two in Smith’s Landing, one in Terrace View, and one at the YMCA on North Main
Allison Rizzetta, a junior environmental resource management major, is president of the YMCA and co-director of Y-Toss.
Changes like the off-campus sites and longer hours are part of the modifications to Y-Toss that Rizzetta anticipates will bring the event to a wider audience, ultimately resulting in more items being donated.
“Hopefully, this will allow upper-classmen and community members to become involved within the environmental movement, as we foster a culture of sustainability in Blacksburg,” Rizzetta said.
Anything gently used — like books, electronics, furniture, clothing, bedding, and appliances — can be donated; lofts, however, are not accepted. Non-perishable food items are also an encouraged donations.
After May 10, these items will be collected, cleaned, and stored until the fall sale.
For Tech, the fall sale will be August 22-23 in McComas Hall; for Radford, items will be available at the YMCA’s thrift shop in Radford.
Between the planning and implementation of the actual collection event, the sorting of items during the summer, and the sale in the fall, Y-Toss requires hundreds of hours of work each year.
For instance, volunteers in the 2010 event logged 1,130 hours, excluding the time put in by the YMCA professional staff.
This year, the YMCA has a schedule of more than 300 volunteer shifts totaling more than 726 hours of service for the Y-Toss collection — and that’s just for Tech’s campus. Radford needs an additional 120 volunteer shifts totaling 240 hours.
To raise awareness about the importance of living sustainably — and hopefully to drum up a few volunteers along the way — the Y-Toss committee has been working to increase the event’s profile on campus.
Just last week, the Y-Toss committee put out 100 little green flags across the Drillfield, each one representing 200 pounds worth of items that were collected and kept from landfills during last year’s event.
The Y-Toss event is one of many sustainability initiatives on Tech’s campus recently;Earth Week ran from April 17-22 and the VT Eco-Olympics concluded on April 13.
These green projects have helped contribute to Tech winning several sustainability related accolades, including being ranked as a silver member of the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.