Furniture Amnesty Day helps local households donate, receive furniture

Photo by George Walker | The Collegian Sgt. Charles Boothe, resident of Manhattan, unloads a chair that was donated to the Furniture Amnesty Day event in City Park on July 25, 2014. Many volunteers and donors work together to make the Furniture Amnesty Day happen.

The sixth annual Furniture Amnesty Day was held in Manhattan City Park on Friday. Citizens from around Manhattan and the surrounding area donated and received unwanted furniture free of charge. The event was coordinated by the members of the Manhattan Good Neighbors Advisory Committee

Lynda Bachelor, project coordinator with the K-State school of leadership studies, said 372 pieces of furniture were donated this year. Manhattan residents could drop off furniture themselves or call and arrange to have it picked up on Friday. The event lasted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with people lining up to pick through furniture as early as 6 a.m. Bachelor said.

Bachelor said the event was modeled after a similar event that Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado used to have. The event used to take place in May, but Bachelor said that since many leases start on Aug. 1, the Manhattan Good Neighbors Advisory Committee moved it to the last Friday of July in 2010.

“We planned this event around that so that it would benefit everyone, not just students,” Bachelor said.

Bachelor said 259 households participated in the event, either by receiving or donating furniture.

One of the volunteers was Reagan Keys, Student Governing Association president and intern at the city manager’s office. Keys said he had been helping organize Furniture Amnesty Day since June when he first started accepting calls to schedule donation pickups, though the bulk of the calls came the week of the event.

“I planned most of the pickups,” Keys, senior in agribusiness, said. “So for me, most of the logistical problem was getting calls Thursday and Friday to come and pick up furniture.”

Keys said seven trucks and drillers were donated for use, as well as one suburban which he said was donated by a private citizen. In all, Keys said 90 donation pickups happened, from around Manhattan and even outside of city limits.

Weather was a concern the day of the event, as temperatures reached triple digits. Keys said that made it “kind of tough.”

“I’d rather it be nice and clear than rainy,” Keys said.

Program coordinator for HandsOn Kansas State Mackenzie Mong, senior in political science and philosophy with pre-law, said the majority of her summer was invested in Furniture Amnesty Day. She is also doing an internship at the Konza United Way.

“It was really cool to see the fruits of all my summer come to life,” Mong said. “In both ways, that was kind of my whole summer.

Mong said she was responsible for managing logistics, volunteers and promotion of the event while making sure everyone involved was kept informed.

“Most of my part of the day focused on volunteer management,” Mong said.

In all, 42 volunteers participated in the event, according to Bachelor.

Mong said she would like to see more volunteers in the future, in order to allow volunteers to rotate in and out of the sun and keep the same volunteers from having to move furniture all day.

However, Bachelor said the coordinators were prepared for the heat, with first responders on hand.

“I think we were prepared, the expertise was there,” Bachelor said. “This was our first time having those first responders there, and that really helped.”

Keys said he thought the volunteers were taken care of as well.

“We had plenty of water and Gatorade to keep people hydrated, and food to keep people fed,” Keys said.

Mong said she is not sure if she will return next year. Changes to next year’s event could include holding the event indoors and for multiple days, if a location to store furniture for that time can be found.

“If we have an opportunity to do multiple days of this event, that would be great,” Bachelor. “That’s something we’ll look into.”

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.