Greenfire and SEGA collaborate to open campus thrift store

Maija Anstine

Greenfire and Students Engaged in Global Aid are collaborating to open a new campus thrift store. Proceeds from the thrift store will go toward supplying microloans for small business owners in third-world countries.
Donations are being taken for the store from now until Nov. 7, and the store will open temporarily on Nov. 11 to 13 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center’s third floor gallery space.
“Everyone is consuming so much and getting rid of so much,” explained Greenfire co-president Sophie Patterson. A thrift store seemed like a logical solution, and served as a way for Greenfire and SEGA to get involved with each other, which Patterson said she has always hoped would happen.
“Anything you think someone else would want to use,” replied Patterson when asked what items students should donate. This includes CDs, tapes, vinyls, clothes, shoes and textbooks. Donation boxes are available in all dorms and in the WCC.
The thrift store will establish a permanent location winter term, but that location is still undetermined.
Patterson envisions Saturday afternoons as standard operating hours for the thrift store once it’s permanently established. The thrift store will be operated by volunteers from Greenfire and SEGA.
SEGA will lend proceeds from the store to small business owners in developing countries through Kiva, an online-based organization that, according to their website, works with local microfinance institutions “to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.”
SEGA maintains a regional focus in their loans; last year, they loaned strictly to business owners in Africa, and this year they plan to target Asia or the Middle East.
Kiva is loan-based, but SEGA is thinking of switching from Kiva to a donation-based company like Opportunity International since they have received so many donations in the past year and a half.
SEGA co-president Mia Daughenbaugh explained that it is sometimes difficult to continually find new people to lend in $25 increments. Of Kiva, Daughenbaugh said, “You essentially never lose the money.”
Through Opportunity International, SEGA will have the opportunity to make larger permanent donations, though the group would also work through Kiva.
SEGA has loaned almost $900 through Kiva to around 30 small businesses, thanks to donations from students at events like the Alternative Giving Fair, Zoo Days and SEGA-sponsored campus parties. They hope for even more success with the thrift store.
According to Patterson, student response to the thrift store has been very positive, but the groups have seen a disconnect between this enthusiasm and actual donations. Going door-to-door at dorms to get donations has been effective, according to Patterson, but she stressed, “We really need donations.”
The problem, said Patterson, lies in “getting people informed and getting them to take the time to help, which is the problem with getting anything started.