- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - The freshman year experience can be summed up in two words: the dorms.

The first day is the hardest, moving one’s belongings into a tiny room, fighting over the bottom bunk and organizing what will be a year’s worth of studying on an old wooden desk.

Students in Bloomington and in Africa began experiencing this transition together two years ago, when IU Surplus shipped hundreds of beds, desks and chairs to Kumasi, Ghana.

IU Surplus stores and resells gently used beds, bed frames, desks, chairs, computers, tables and other Indiana University dorm room, classroom and office materials. Over the past two years, the store has sold more than 1,000 beds, desks and chairs to Garden City University College in Kumasi, IU Surplus-Warehouse Marketing Manager Todd Reid said.

“Every spring, when the students move out, we have an abundance of surplus. All of a sudden, we have 2,000 beds to get rid of,” Reid told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1jgG8FT). “It’s really heartwarming to hear the stories of where this stuff is going.”

IU Surplus began working with a live auction website for government agencies called GovDeals three years ago.

Accra, Ghana, native Nana Essuman is an accountant who lives in Virginia and helps assist Garden City in finding deals on materials.

“I know the good work that is being done there,” said Essuman, who attended the Kumasi school before moving to the United States to attend Temple University.

Because the school bought the materials in bulk through GovDeals, they were able to receive substantial discounts.

Beds ended up costing the school less than $20 each, Reid said.

“We also sent several hundred area rugs to Africa,” Reid said, adding that retail price of the 6-by-9-foot rugs is about $75 each. “You can imagine the luxury of having an area rug for $5.”

Each spring for the past two years, Essuman has arranged for semi trucks to meet IU Surplus employees at Forest and McNutt dorms to load purchased materials. Once the materials have left Bloomington, they take a three-month long journey before reaching the students. The longest part of the journey is the rural march the materials endure between the Ghana coast and the town of Kumasi.

“I know why people need to benefit from resources that I’ve had the opportunity to benefit from in the U.S.,” Essuman said. “To me, that’s a good cause.”

IU Surplus is pushing $1 million in sales through GovDeals, but 95 percent of sales still go back to students or community members, Reid said.

“Everything someone needs to go from dorm to bedroom can be found here,” Reid said. The 60,000-square-foot facility is located off East 10th Street, just east of the Ind. 45/46 Bypass.

Local nonprofit groups also take advantage of IU Surplus sales. The Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington recently bought 18 computers for a computer work station, club executive director Jeff Baldwin said.

“IU is a big part of this community, obviously,” Baldwin said. “For them to take the time to do right by local nonprofits is a good thing.”

IU Surplus recently sold 16 beds to an area women’s crisis center, Reid said.

While some materials benefit nonprofit causes, IU Surplus cannot donate to groups since the university buys its items with tax dollars.

“We get a lot of requests for donations, for a lot of great causes, and sadly, we can’t,” Reid said. “We walk a fine line with that and obey those rules and guidelines. We can have a computer sale and make it profitable and reasonable for everyone to take advantage of.”

Still, Reid is happy to know that someone, somewhere is benefiting from IU Surplus work.

“It’s unbelievable, the labor that they are willing to put in for the cause,” Reid said. “The beds are probably still sitting in a cargo container on the East Coast, waiting to get there. They’ll probably reach them by the time our students are back in the classroom.”


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide