Arlen Garcia’s eyes lit up when she read a newsletter detailing stories of sustainability programs at colleges around the nation.
The article featured students opening thrift stores and hosting move-in sales to give reusable items a second home.
It ignited the psychology professor’s own idea—kickstarting a flea market at North Campus to benefit students so they can get second-hand goods for free.
“We have a student pantry,” Garcia said. “Why not have a free store every semester?”
Now her idea is set to become reality. Students will have the opportunity to take home free, second-hand articles during the Free Flea For Students event on Feb. 12 in the building three breezeway area. Organizers are hoping to host the flea market once a semester.
Donations for the flea market will be accepted until a week before the event at three drop off locations at North Campus—Room 2256, 1119B and 4208. Only new or gently used items will be accepted. Clothes and shoes are not accepted.
Among the items being accepted: toasters, electronics, mugs, dishes, lamps, utensils, umbrellas, reusable water bottles, book shelves, curtains, inflatable beds, school supplies, comforters, blankets and hangers.
“I think the specific benefit is that students get to have free resources that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford,” said Aryonna Marshall, president of North Campus’ Psychology Club and one of the students organizing the event.
Items will be handed out to students on a first-come basis. Maximum amounts of items each student can take are still being discussed, and the layout of the event is still in the works as well.
Members of the Psychology Club and AmeriCorps VISTA will help distribute the items the day of and organize and inspect items brought to drop-off locations. Items that are broken or dirty will be removed from the donation piles.
“I think the flea market is a good opportunity for students to get involved in helping others,” Marshall said. “It can be a nice thing on campus like Single Stop to help disadvantaged students in anyway we can.”
The North Campus’ Dean of Students office released a campus-wide survey last semester to gauge interest in a flea market. More than 500 students participated, and 93% said a flea market would be a positive addition to campus, according to Garcia.
“It was the first step in realizing the needs of the campus,” Garcia said.
Contact North Campus’ Single Stop department at (305) 237-1056 for more information on acceptable donations and volunteer opportunities.