Last semester, during the annual year-end move out, Joshua Means ’11 had a great idea. He noticed the large amount of clothing and electronic equipment that began piling up outside OU’s 200+ dorm rooms, and wondered what other use was left in these items. He then rallied his friends from Salt & Light, a Christian organization on campus, to help him donate these used items to those less fortunate in the community.
As a result of their efforts, Salt & Light collected over 500 pounds of clothing, dozens of household items, food, and furniture (including refrigerators and sofas). They then sent the donations to the Salvation Army and the Atlanta Mission, asking that these specifically be given to the tornado victims in North Georgia. Who knew that “broke college students” had so much to give?
According to Joshua, organizing a drive of this size and disseminating all of the finds was a rather large feat, but hearing about others who had lost their material possesions in a tragedy hit home. During his freshman year, Joshua’s family lost their home in a fire, and the the sight of the thrown-away clothes and appliances triggered an emotional response born of experience.
“For me, [the fire] meant that the only bed I had was my bed in Traer [during the school year,"] recalls Josh. “For my parents, it meant that they were living between hotels and rental homes until the house could be rebuilt. Thankfully, my parents were able to rebuild and furnish their home after it burned, but that was only because of insurance. Not everyone has the financial capabilities to take care of themselves in crisis like my parents had. Then I remembered that over the years, and even during my semesters off, I’d noticed more stuff being thrown away at the end of spring semester than really should — clothing, working appliances, furniture, basically anything for which students might not have room when it comes time to move out. Then I thought, ‘Why not put my campus to work in taking care of men, women, and children who quite literally might not have a refrigerator, a couch, clothing, sheets, and [things like that?]‘”
As a group, Salt & Light has always been in the business of helping others. Each year, the organization holds a Winter Coat Drive in the fall, collecting hats, scarves, gloves, coats, socks, and blankets for Atlanta’s homeless. Now that he’s a graduate, Josh will continue to advise Salt & Light as an alum, and hopes that the efforts of groups like Salt & Light can inspire students elsewhere to realize the ways in which they can help others, even if they don’t think they have much to give.
“My big goal with the move-out donation drive is to inspire not only future Christians at OU to reach out with God’s love in a big way such as this, but to inspire Christians at other universities in the Atlanta area…we want to inspire current and future generations of college students at OU to dream big, get stuff done, and not quit ’til they’re finished.”