Reaping treasure — and bargains — from Penn cast-offs

On Saturday morning, the University of Pennsylvania is selling off things its students leave behind. The annual PennMOVES program collects about 45 tons of material from students moving out of campus housing at the end of the academic year. The subsequent—and epic–rummage sale generates an average of $25,000 for charity.

This year, it partnered with Goodwill, which has the detritus-sorting market cornered. For its trouble, all the proceeds of the sale will go to Goodwill’s job training programs.

After four years of the PennMOVES program, students are beginning to get in the habit of throwing their goods in collection bins rather than the trash.

“It’s a lot easier internally because students know how the process works,” said Barbara Lea-Kruger of the school’s division of business services. “In terms of what they leave behind, every year it’s different. One year, we had a ton of winter coats. I don’t know if that means we had more students from warm climates or not.”

The goods are separated into categories: kitchen appliances, computer equipment, books, furniture, clothes. All of which may have otherwise been thrown away.

Scavengers who sort through raw garbage in Dumpsters during student move-out have not noticed a change in the volume of trash.

“There’s been a lot of Barney’s Co-Op bags this year, and you can tell that those people are so wealthy, their physical goods aren’t as important to them,” said Paul, a Dumpster diver who preferred not to use his last name. “Their level of wealth is just totally different.”

The PennMOVES rummage sale will begin at the former DuPont chemical campus, 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue, at 8 a.m.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.