The Physical Resource Center is a student-run initiative to provide all CWRU undergraduate students with sustainable secondhand items which were donated by students, faculty, and staff. The Office of Energy and Sustainability started the conversation several years ago but Undergraduate Student Government, the Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative, and Student Activities and Leadership made it a reality this year. The collective goal was to provide COVID relief to financially struggling students and a sustainable location to acquire items affordably.
On the opening day, September 19, 2020 the store was packed with items, and many students came to reap the benefits of the store. The shoppers expressed enthusiasm for the store, and walked out with a plethora of items including two mini fridges, CWRU spiritwear, kitchen utensils, and one Hello Kitty toaster. One student expressed that she was not expecting to stay on campus the whole semester and had not brought winter clothing; the store allowed her to prepare for the cold in an affordable way. Another student was able to acquire professional clothing to wear in a workplace. The store has already become a large benefit to the CWRU students.
There were many steps leading up to the creation of the Freestore starting with Rescycle, a dorm donation program for CWRU students at the end of each school year. The store acquired the Rescycle items over the summer through the Office of Energy and Sustainability and the Housing Office, and many volunteers worked tirelessly to sort through the donations for the store. Items that were in excess were donated, such as bedsheets to CWRU EMS, and linens and towels to the Lutheran Men’s Homeless Shelter.
Currently, five shoppers and two volunteers are allowed during store hours to ensure health and safety, but the Physical Resource Center hopes to increase that number in the future. Other future initiatives include the addition of a small food pantry, which is expected to come before the end of the semester. As well, the store hopes to eventually be accessible to CIA, CIM, and CWRU Graduate Students, and there are plans to add community days, where all CWRU community members have the opportunity to shop at the store.
Interested shoppers can sign up for a campus groups slot here. And donations are welcome during store hours which are Wednesday and Saturday from 1-5pm at 11440 Uptown Ave., the store location. Cold weather items are especially welcome.
With positive receptions and room for growth, the future is bright for the Physical Resource Center.
by. Olivia Paxson, student sustainability ambassador and Freestore volunteer