Stetson Donates Used Dorm Furniture to Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches

Trucks and work crews arrived outside Stetson University dorms this week and loaded up scores of mattresses, chairs, sofas and other furniture.

Work men getting ready to load up furniture.
Work crews with the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches get ready to load up more donated furniture from Gordis Hall this week.

The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches will make two trips to Stetson this summer as the university gets rid of old dorm furniture and makes room for new furniture before students return for classes in mid-August.

Stetson has partnered with the Sheriffs Youth Ranches for about 15 years, donating items that can be used in the Sheriffs’ six residential facilities and summer camps for at-risk children. Other items are sold in the Sheriffs’ thrift stores around the state to raise money for the charity.

“It’s really been a win-win for both of us,” said Valinda Wimer, Stetson’s director of Purchasing and Business Services. “It’s keeping things from going to the dumpster.

“Some years, we don’t have anything. Some years, like this summer, we have a large amount to donate,” she said.

Bunk beds from Stetson’s dorms, for example, have been used by children at the Sheriffs’ residential facilities and summer camps, said Russell Grinnell, a Youth Ranches’ senior field representative, who was busy inventorying the donated furniture on Tuesday morning.

From the trip this week and another one scheduled in late July, the Sheriffs Youth Ranches will pick up an estimated 80-100 mattresses, 66 sofas, 50 TV stands, 40 coffee table sets, 22 upholstered chairs and more than 100 miscellaneous chairs, including wooden and plastic ones.

trucks parked out front Nemec Hall
Donated furniture from Nemec Hall, above, and other dorms gets loaded into trucks from the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.

“If there’s things we can use within the agency, we use it. That’s the whole point,” said Grinnell, adding that items are refurbished before being used or sold by the Sheriffs Youth Ranches. “It’s the overabundance that we get. That’s why we opened up our thrift stores to help bring in revenue. … People don’t have money to give, but they have stuff.”

As a general rule, Stetson uses sofas and other upholstered commercial-grade furniture in the dorms for about 10 years. Wooden furniture, such as desks and chairs, can be used for more than 20 years, said Amy Ammon, supervisor of Special Events.

Even at that age, the used furniture hauled away by Sheriffs Youth Ranches’ trucks this week looked in good useable condition.

Larry Correll-Hughes

“We’re just trying to live out one of our values, which is sustainability,” said Larry Correll-Hughes, Ph.D., Stetson’s assistant vice president for Campus Life and Student Success, and executive director of Housing and Residential Life. “We don’t have to pay for disposal and it helps someone out.”

Five trucks from the Sheriffs Youth Ranches parked outside Nemec Hall on Tuesday morning and crews worked for a few hours loading up items from there and other dorms. They also will take some furniture from Gordis, Conrad and Emily halls, and University Village Apartments this summer, as well as from a few staff apartments on campus.

Stetson’s Housing and Residential Life staff inspects the dorm furniture each year to see which items should be replaced individually or as part of a long-range strategic plan to replace sets or types of furniture in buildings or groups of buildings. For example, the 80 to 100 mattresses, donated this summer, are coming from five fraternity houses, as part of a plan to begin replacing mattresses on a rotation, Correll-Hughes said. Student feedback plays a key role in many of these decisions.

Workers load up chairs and sofa.
Workers haul out chairs and a sofa from Nemec Hall on Tuesday, June 27.

Wimer, with Stetson’s Purchasing and Business Services office, said the university has donated items over the years to several charities, including Habitat for Humanity, the Duvall Homes for the developmentally disabled in DeLand, and the Dixie Lodge, an assisted living facility in DeLand.

About 15 years ago, she was researching which charities accepted donated furniture and could put it to use, and not just sell all of it. That’s when she “stumbled upon” the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. The charity has taken everything from furniture from the language lab in Sampson Hall when it was renovated in the early 2000s, to 230 dressers from Chaudoin Hall a few years ago.

“They’re driving from Gainesville, so we try to make it worth their trip,” Wimer said. “They’ve really been great, coming down and wanting it.”

-Cory Lancaster