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DSU students look to turn junk into treasure

DICKINSON - College students across the country are packing up their dorm rooms. And that means perfectly good CD organizers, electric kettles, clothes hangers and whatever else doesn't make the trip home is ending up in the trash bin.

DICKINSON - College students across the country are packing up their dorm rooms. And that means perfectly good CD organizers, electric kettles, clothes hangers and whatever else doesn't make the trip home is ending up in the trash bin.

But this spring, a group of students at Dickinson State University have organized a push to salvage the flotsam and jetsam of dorm life.

Members of the school's International Club have stationed plastic storage bins in the lobbies of residence halls and campus apartments for students to drop off their unwanted wares. Whatever the group collects, they plan to sell for cheap at a yard sale to incoming students in the fall.

So far, the response has been strong, said sophomore Silvia Vigier, the club president. In about 24 hours, students filled seven of the bins, she said Wednesday.

"People are generous," Vigier said. "And we're happy that nobody stole the containers."

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The haul has included pillows, textbooks, sporting equipment, sheets, furniture and, in one case, a DVD player.

Vigier, who is from France, said she has had personal experience with coming to college and having to buy all of life's necessities.

"When I arrived, I remember I had so many expenses," she said.

So Vigier and the group went to work developing a program that would benefit everyone, but especially exchange, international and out-of-town students.

"We were like, 'Oh it would be nice if we could offer them a microwave for example for three or four bucks,'" Vigier said.

Thy Yang, DSU's director of multicultural affairs, applauded the club's effort.

"They're hoping to offset, you know, a lot of the expenses students first have when they first get here. You know, when you travel internationally, you get two pieces of luggage," she said.

Yang said many colleges have similar end-of-year recycling endeavors. Non-perishable food may be collected next year in addition to dorm furnishings, she said.

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Juniors Kris Bextel and Becca Forthun were spotted Wednesday looking for treasure in a Dumpster on campus.

"We don't actually get in, we just pull from the top," Forthun said. "Getting actually in is kind of gross."

The two had recovered a pile of notebooks from another bin. They said the spirit of the International Club's program jibed with their philosophy.

"If they're perfectly usable why throw it away. Somebody else can use it," Forthun said.

Freshman Steve Bertelsen was getting ready to make the drive home to Libby, Mont. He was seen heaving a loaded trashbag into a garbage bin.

"I didn't throw anything that was valuable away," he promised, adding that he had to make sure his other belongings would fit in his car.

The stuff the International Club gathers will be stored over the summer, and money from the sale will be used to fund club events. Any items leftover will be donated to a local charity, Vigier said.

The collection is to run through early next week.

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