'Pack It Up & Pass It On' showcased at school/city relations conference

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
June 16, 2008

Pack It Up and Pass It On, Texas State University-San Marcos’ annual spring move-out recycling program that connects 1,000 needy San Marcos residents with student donations, will be showcased this week at the national Best Practices in Building University/City Relationships Conference.

With the theme “From Campus to Council: Blending the Best of Both Worlds,” the conference will be hosted by Texas A&M University in College Station.

Texas State Community Relations Director Kim Porterfield will be joined by San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz for the presentation, featuring the history, growth and benefits to non-student and student residents alike. The pair will also present information on how the program can be replicated in other university towns.

“It’s a great honor to be selected to showcase this Texas State initiative that benefits local needy folks, reduces the university’s waste stream, cuts down on dumpster diving and gives our students another opportunity to give back to the community,” said Porterfield. “Pack It Up aligns with the three Rs: reduce, recycle and reuse,” she said.

This year, Texas State students donated about nine tons of items, which local needy people “shopped” from for free.

The purpose of the conference is to highlight results-oriented city and university practices that have built positive relationships and successfully addressed town/gown issues and concerns.

Participants from across the nation will come together and learn from one another in the quest to build better relationships between universities and surrounding communities.

Opportunities for students to assist local residents, reducing the trash stream, eliminating dumpster diving on campus, getting items in good condition into the hands of needy San Marcos families, and engaging community volunteers on campus are a few of the benefits of Pack It Up.

This annual recycling program provides students and staff an easy avenue to recycle thousands of items at the end of the spring semester, at a low operating budget.

After overflowing campus dumpsters were brought to the attention of the Community Relations office by the local neighborhood association, “Pack It Up and Pass It On” was born in 2002.

True recycling, the program provides donation stations in 22 residence halls and four campus apartment complexes for the 6,000 on-campus resident students to donate, instead of throwing away, items they no longer need. Students donate clothes, shoes, toys, purses and backpacks, food, books, alarm clocks, vacuums, computers, CDs, furniture, shelving units and more.

Donations are collected by volunteers and stored in portable storage units placed strategically around campus. Many Texas State staff and faculty, as well as non-student residents, volunteer to “Adopt-a-Hall,” daily collecting donated items and taking them to storage.

Although the program covers the time between finals and graduation, several students volunteer, along with community leaders and others. The storage units are moved to the LBJ Student Center Ballroom, where donations are sorted and set up in a “garage-sale” atmosphere.

Faculty, staff and local residents are also invited to drop off their donations. The university provides admission “vouchers” through the United Way of Hays County agencies, local schools and other organizations to invite needy families to come to a “free” shopping day, when families can take whatever they can use.

Within three hours, every item has a new home. Volunteers are honored with a city council proclamation from the mayor, and receive a certificate from the university.

Since this program began in 2002, fewer dump hauls are needed on campus when students move out, dumpster diving has been dramatically decreased and local families are benefiting from reusing the items, which are screened for good condition.

Hired to develop the Office of Community Relations for Texas State in 2000, Porterfield has implemented several initiatives, such as Bobcat Build and college awareness tours for local youth, that connect university resources with community needs. She came to San Marcos from Houston to study journalism at Texas State, working as a San Marcos Daily Record reporter before becoming the community liaison for the public schools.

Porterfield is on the board of the San Marcos Education Foundation, United Way of Hays County and was recently elected to the San Marcos City Council.

She is a member of the local P-16 Council, the chamber education committee, the university's service learning committee, University Council and Facilities Planning Committee.

Susan Narvaiz is in her second term as San Marcos mayor, having previously served a city council member. She is president and CEO of Core Strategies, Inc., and general manager of Sedona Staffing in San Marcos. Narvaiz was recently elected president of the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) where she has served on the executive committee since 2004. She also has served on the FAIR Policy Committee for the National League of Cities since 2003, and on the Intergovernmental Relations Task Force for the Texas Municipal League in 2006.

Narvaiz is very active in a wide variety of community organizations. She has served on a number of city-related boards, including the Youth Commission, Economic Development Board and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Also attending from San Marcos are City Councilmember John Thomaides, ASG Student Liaison to the City Council C.J. Morgan, City Manager Rick Menchaca, Assistant Police Chief Lisa Dvorak and Assistant City Manager Collette Jamison.

The conference is being co-hosted by Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M University System, Blinn College, City of College Station, City of Bryan, the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, the Bryan-College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Research Valley Partnership, Inc.

Pack It Up volunteers came from Timberland Store at Tanger Outlet Center, Sustainable San Marcos, Alpha Phi Alpha, Parent Relations, Alumni Relations, Grosvenor Center of Geographic Education, National Association of Environmental Professionals, Risk Management, Residence Life, Office of Disability Services, Student Health Center, University Advancement, Technology Resource Business Services, Non Traditional Student Organization, Delta Sigma Theta, Software Engineering, Instructional Technology, and the Occhialini family.

To see pictures of this program, visit: www.txstate.edu/community and click on Pack It Up.