The Greater South Side Sale

A highly rewarding community initiative

For many college students, the month of May is a great time of year.  The smell of spring is in the air and you can finally begin to enjoy outdoor recreation without the worry of it being too cold.  May also means the end of another year.  Before that happens though, there are plenty of semester end projects, papers and of course, final exams.  When you get to your senior year, you really see the end of the road and look forward to beginning your career and the next chapter of your life.

When the final day is here, you are excited to go home and begin your summer.  However, when packing to go home, you realize that over the course of the year, you have accumulated way more items than you had when you arrived in September.  Regardless if you live close to school or are from out of town, it is not always possible to take everything home that you brought for the fall semester. Those students who have to fly to their college can only really take the items that fit in their suitcase and a carry on.  Because of these issues, college students across the country throw out tons of good items every year.  Very good furniture, household items, appliances, and clothing to name a few end up in dumpsters and off to a landfill.  It is sad to see such a waste across America.

One such institution realized this and knew that something had to be done.  Almost ten years ago, Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. forged ahead with a plan to organize, through their student affairs department, a campus wide collection of unwanted items.  Anything from clothing, to DVD’s, kitchen items, TV’s, furniture and so much more were on the list.  Once everything was gathered, they held a community wide sale to raise money for needy organizations.  They aptly named it “The Greater South Side Sale”!

I began attending this sale many years ago after seeing a little advertisement for it.   It is held on E. Fourth St. in Bethlehem in a parking lot.  My first time there they had a decent crowd and a 40ft. tent with all the goods underneath.  I was able to get several items all at a fraction of the cost if I had purchased them new.  It was a neat event and I was happy all the money went to a good cause.

Well, this event proved to be a great success for Lehigh and the South Side. Each year it has grown larger and larger.  In fact, the sale, which is held on the first Saturday of June at 10am. is so well attended that lines begin forming at least 2 hours ahead to get in.  This year, I arrived around 8:30am and there were ALREADY at least 100 people in front of me! The tent is now 100ft. long and they still have a large section outside of the tent with items for sale. It is HUGE!  The sale is a great event for the community. Student affairs organized almost 60 volunteers for various jobs including set up, organizing, and most importantly, sorting through the nearly 20 tons of items every year.  There is clearly a lot of behind the scenes work happening to make this gigantic yard sale a great achievement for all.  It was reported that in 2016, the sale profited around $20,000 which helped fund projects for Southside youths.  They included helping with field trips, homework clubs and other youth oriented programs.

Whoever thought of this probably couldn’t have ever imagined just how large it would be.  An idea that initially began to help avoid throwing away usable items has morphed into a community-wide initiative that benefits local kids, as well as offering these items to the community at affordable prices.  A big high five is due to everyone who has a hand in making this the smashing success that it has become for South Bethlehem.  BRAVO to ALL!!

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