Features

Greenlockers: Equipping students, moving the world forward

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On the campus of Bethel College Dr. Ted Bryant is known as a fun, outgoing professor of Psychology that will do just about anything to make class more interesting. He has been known to make an entire class practice the art of Yoga, do skits to better learn the subject and numerous other things to get his class having fun while learning. Yet there is a much more serious and caring side to this college professor. If you have taken one of his classes you have probably heard about the non-profit organization Bryant started several years ago; Green Lockers. “Green Lockers is a non-profit organization that partners with student organizations in each school to collect new and slightly-used school supplies, books and clothes from area schools during end of year,” said Bryant. “Materials are collected, sorted and then given away for free to charitable organizations in the community servicing underprivileged students.” There are a few fundamental guidelines they abide by in order to make their organization continue to run and grow: 1) Donate to donate to donate-Supplies are freely donated to Green Lockers who in turn freely donates them to charities who then donate them to students in need. Freely donate to freely donate over and over again. 2) Partnering with student organizations-by partnering with student organizations, the students feel empowered to lead. 3) Supplies are only donated to 501c3 (non-profit) organizations organizations-Green Lockers does not donate directly to the student; instead supplies are donated to charities that are aware of where to find the greatest need. They are a resource for the resource. 4) Locally first, then globally-The need of the local community is filled first, then whatever supplies are left are shipped globally. 5) Their niche is in reusing supplies-Green Lockers is different from most end of the year school drives in that it is looking for gently used school supplies. New supplies will, of course, not be turned down, but the goal is to reuse and stop the waste of perfectly good materials. Green Lockers is an organization that is true to its name; they are trying to fill a need with local and international students by going green. As stated before, its aim is to collect gently used materials that students did not use throughout the year. This is accomplished by placing bins next to the trashcans during locker clean-out day at the end of each school year. This idea of reusing school supplies was actually what got Bryant started with the idea of Green Lockers. “Five years ago as I was finishing up my PhD. at the University of Notre Dame, I was going on a mission trip to Mexico to visit orphanages, and we were supposed to bring down 40 suitcases full of school supplies,” said Bryant. “Being without money to buy the materials, I began thinking back to my own school days, and specifically, the locker clean-out days at the end of every year. These are the days when essentially, there is a controlled dump of all the contents of one’s locker into the nearest trash can. I simply thought; what if instead of throwing away everything, I provided different containers in the hallways-next to the trashcans- that students could put new or slightly used school supplies, books and clothes into?” And so began Green Lockers. It is now entering its fifth year and continuing to grow. Last year they were in 34 schools and collected 16,000lbs of material that they freely gave to over 50 charities. As they begin their fifth year, Bryant is working hard to continue the growth. Their current goal is to find sponsorship to allow them to reach their goal of being in 100 schools this next year. While some fundraisers have been done, Bryant is still waiting and trusting God to show him where He will provide. For more information please visit Green Lockers website at greenlockers.org.
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