GIVE Isla Vista — a student affairs organization focused on reselling local donations in the Isla Vista community — is reinstating the annual GIVE Benefit Sale in the Isla Vista community after the annual event was put on hold for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s sale will be held from June 18-19.
The GIVE Benefit Sale is a project that was started 32 years ago after the community raised concerns over the environmental impact of students dumping unneeded materials onto the streets of Isla Vista during move-out week at the end of spring quarter.
“The GIVE [Benefit Sale] basically started 32 years ago when people started thinking about the impact on the environment of students during move-out,” said Viviana Marsano, student engagement & leadership director of civic and community engagement, I.V. liaison and senior advisor to campus organizations. “Everyone leaves the dumpsters full of things on the streets and things like that.”
Marsano said that the sale has three main purposes: to decrease the amount of items that end up in the landfill after students move out, to create opportunities for civic and community engagement and to fund nonprofit organizations in I.V. The funds generated from the GIVE Benefit Sale are redistributed to nonprofit organizations in I.V.
“It started in a little room in Isla Vista — which is now the I.V. Community Services District [(IVCSD) Community Center] — and 32 years later, it has become this phenomenon, this environmental project,” she said.
Due to health concerns regarding COVID-19 and restrictions on large gatherings, GIVE Isla Vista canceled the 30th year anniversary of the GIVE Benefit Sale in 2020.
Marsano explained that “2020 should have been the 30th anniversary, but [because] we have missed two years from the pandemic, this year will be the 30th anniversary.”
A team of 14 staff and 200 volunteers will begin preparing for the sale on June 6 — the Monday of finals week — by setting up containers for residents to donate clothes, electronics, bikes, furniture and more. These containers will be open for members to drop off materials until the following Sunday for students in residential halls and the following Monday for students in university apartments.
“Then I move the whole project into Embarcadero Hall by the Wednesday of finals week,” Marsano said. “I have people on the ground helping and also students who are truck drivers and furniture coordinators.”
Truck drivers will go around the residential halls and student apartments 12 hours per day, filling up their trucks with donations from students and bringing them back to Embarcadero Hall before beginning their rounds again.
“Then they go into Isla Vista for big items [like beds],” Marsano said. “[For] small things, people [living in Isla Vista] have to come and drop them off.”
Security will also be present at Embarcadero Hall 24 hours a day to prevent theft of sale items. This system will continue for 10 to 11 days until the sale opens to the public.
“We collect donations, we receive donations, we weigh them, we sort them, we test the electronics, we clean the electronics, we price them, we display them, we sell them, and whatever is not sold is donated to the Goodwill,” Marsano said. “We process over 40 tons of donations, which is huge.”
Clothing is sorted into 62 different categories, and the team puts 60 to 70 bikes on display at the sale for people to purchase. Students also donate textbooks and books, which are sold to local booksellers, as well as piles of bedding. For furniture, to eliminate any bed bugs, the team fumigates all donated couches and beds for 48 hours prior to the sale.
“Volunteers donate about 1,500 hours, and the paid staff members work another 2,000 hours,” Marsano said. “So it’s basically 3,500 hours working on the sale in 12 days.”
Marsano said community members also donate food to the sale, all of which is donated to organizations like Associated Students (A.S.) Food Bank and I.V. nonprofit and activist collective Food Not Bombs.
“We get crates and crates of food and open the ones that aren’t expired and sort through it,” Marsano said. “We donate at least 2,000 pounds of that food, and food that we cannot donate to [the A.S. Food Bank] is given to groups like Food Not Bombs, who feed the unsheltered in Isla Vista, and they take everything they can take.”
All of the proceeds from the sale go to I.V. nonprofits, I.V. Youth Projects, I.V. Recreation and Park District (IVRPD)’s nonprofit programs, the St. George Youth Center and the parents of I.V. Elementary School.
“We have raised between $26,000 to $43,ooo, and 100% of the proceeds are donated,” Marsano said.
Marsano asks A.S. entities like the A.S. Finance & Business CommitteeBoard, Community Affairs Board, Isla Vista Community Relations Committee, Zero Waste Committee, Coastal Fund and more to fund the sale. She said the cost of the sale this year will be about $60,000 — with a sizable percentage of this cost going to the salaries of the staff members.
Marsano is also hoping to work with IVCSD to secure funding for the event.
“This year, because [the sale is going to be] so expensive, I’m trying to work with the IVCSD to see if they can contribute some funding,” she said.
The sale is open to the entirety of the public. Customers from Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Maria and more come to the entrance of the sale before it opens to look through the available items. Marsano recalled that, historically, this sale has been popular for local residents and nearby counties.
“When we open the door, people almost run me over, and they start running and grabbing things,” Marsano said, laughing.