Mary Tays and her Perkins Administration Building (PAB) colleagues couldn’t stand the thought of throwing away perfectly good binders, paper clips and folders, some of which had been stashed in supply cabinets and in the attic for years, gathering dust.
Tays, the PAB building manager, knew there had to be a better way to handle abandoned office supplies. She wanted to figure out how to connect the supplies with the people who could use them. Colleague Bonnie Bazley, assistant to the vice president in SMU’s division of Student Affairs, agreed. Together they created a building-wide event to put supplies in the hands of their coworkers.
The Office Supply Swap was born.
With just a few tables, some well-placed fliers and a couple of staff email messages, Tays and Bazley pulled it together. They encouraged everyone in the building to clean out their supply closets and bring the items to the break room on the ground floor. Employees responded and brought in office supplies of every kind. Items from the building’s lost-and-found collection were added, such as scarves, gloves, reading glasses, etc.
“Over three days in January, people dropped off supplies they didn’t need and picked up supplies they did,” said Tays. “It was fun. It was free. People loved it!”
Because everything was free, there was no need to assign any staff to watch over the tables.
When it was over and the employees had their fill, boxes of leftover office supplies were donated to the Interfaith Housing Coalition in Dallas. “We had to get a donor form filled out and signed by the president, as there are usually some tax issues with donating goods,” said Tays. “But it was worth the effort and Interfaith Housing was happy to receive the supplies.”
Tays and Bazley hope the idea spreads to other buildings on campus. “It’s a great way to save money in your department,” said Tays. “Why spend more money getting things that are already here? Plus, it’s fun!”
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