Community Waste

Move Out Donation Drive Supports Local Efforts

When the COVID-19 stay-at-home order was lifted in late May, many students began the process of moving out of their St. Louis housing. Some had finished out the academic year in off-campus housing while others came back to pack up their belongings. Others who weren’t able to travel entrusted moves to local friends or family, or to the university’s contracted movers. In all instances, WashU made donation opportunities easily available to connect useful items with new owners.

2020 marks the 10th anniversary of robust academic year-end move out donation drives, though this year presented numerous logistical challenges. Key partners, like Goodwill, were closed during the stay-at-home orders and could not accept donations. Students living in off campus housing moved out over a 2 month period, rather than a one-day push the day after graduation. Most students did not return to pack up their belongings. In addition, information about COVID-19 transmission was evolving. While we knew we wanted to save as many items as possible, we were not willing to jeopardize the health of the people who would come in contact with the donations.

Despite the challenges, alternative approaches were designed to gather as many items as possible and funnel them to local agencies directly serving the community.

While more donations are expected to slowly accumulate over the next month and a half as rooms are packed up and cleaned, all of the student moves have been completed and agencies are coming through for pick ups. We are immensely grateful to everyone who helped make this program possible, and the students who generously donated and went the extra mile to help.

Collection Highlights


  • Four collection days for furniture and household electronics were offered in May and June for students moving out of off-campus housing.
  • 71 students donated approximately 280 items, much of which was mid-to-large sized furniture.


  • Five collection stations were established for on-campus housing, available June 1 – June 20.
  • An estimated 1,400 items were donated, mostly clothes, shoes, bedding, and storage containers, as well as mini-fridges and microwaves.

Campus Partners

  • Habif Health and Wellness Center
  • Neighborhood Cares
  • Office of Government and Community Relations
  • Office of Sustainability
  • Quadrangle Housing
  • Residential Life
  • Sharing With A Purpose (SWAP)
  • WFF

STL Agencies

  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Cornerstone Early Education Center
  • Foster and Adoptive Care
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Operation Food Search
  • Queen of Peace
  • Riverbend Head Start and Family Services
  • Thomas Dunn Learning Center
  • St. Louis Mutual Aid
  • Youth In Need

In total, approximately 3,500 items ranging from clothing to furniture to books were donated, keeping 9,865 lbs of materials out of landfills and fulfilling the needs of people in our community.

As a result of the health and economic burdens created by the COVID-19 pandemic, agencies are working harder than ever, often with fewer resources, to meet the growing need in our community. To connect with area agencies and understand what they are looking for, click here.