Florida TaxWatch Honors FSU's Chuck It for Charity Project

Students with Chuck It for Charity Donations

A grassroots movement begun several years ago to salvage reusable goods left behind by Florida State University students has rescued more than 200 tons of material from being dumped in landfills.

Today, Chuck it for Charity is in its eighth year and involves several FSU departments, including Campus Sustainability, Housing, Solid Waste & Recycling and Surplus. Add to that an army of volunteers made up of students, staff and community volunteers.

On Friday, Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro introduced the Chuck it for Charity team during a news conference announcing the 2016 Prudential Productivity Award winners. For the past 28 years, TaxWatch, along with its corporate partners, has teamed up to identify state workers or teams of state workers that are finding ways to save money in their workplaces.

Beginning on June 15th with a luncheon at the Tucker Civic Center, TaxWatch will honor 605 individuals or teams that represent this year’s winners culled from applications received across the state. Since its inception, tens of thousands of dollars have been given out in cash awards for top winners, while plaques are presented to others.

Teaching students the value of saving things, even that toaster

Calabro estimates that the program has identified $9 billion in savings from employee efforts in those 28 years.

“State workers commit themselves to improving the Sunshine State each and every day, many of whom go beyond the call of duty often without any recognition from government leaders or the very people they serve,” Calabro said. “The Prudential Productivity Awards is the only program in the state that recognizes and honors the achievements of the most productive and innovative employees in Florida state government.”

Chuck it for Charity will be among the teams receiving a cash award, but the amount won’t be announced until the June luncheon. Other luncheons will be held in Tampa (June 21), Miami (June 22), Orlando (June 23) and Jacksonville (June 24).

Chuck it for Charity impressed the panel of judges with its track record of saving FSU money in staff time, tipping fees and fuel saved in trips to the landfill by salvaging over 87 tons of left behind items or materials no longer needed on campus. At the same time, charities throughout the region have benefitted by being recipients of the group’s donations.

“In partnership with Surplus/Controller and University Housing, Chuck it has expanded to include furniture and other large household items as a means to effectively manage property during extraordinary events, such as the closing of a residence hall or complex,” the application read.

“Starting in 2014, FSU began closing Alumni Village, a 60-year-old housing complex with over 750 furnished apartments. Because of the moving, storage, and disposal costs associated with closing so many buildings at once, it became necessary to go outside the regular disposition process ($5,000 cost incurred by University Housing for the closing of the first 10 buildings, out of 90). The partners donated the furniture to 25 community organizations. As a result, an additional 125 tons were diverted from the landfill (plus additional savings in landfill tipping fees, labor, and fuel costs).”

The group has since expanded on that venture with an additional 20 tons of materials rescued from the closing of Dorman and Deviney halls last summer.

“They saved a lot of tax dollars,” Calabro said. “They were able to find things that could be repurposed and give it to organizations that needed it and could put it to good use.”

Elizabeth Swiman, director of campus sustainability at FSU, said she is pleased to see the efforts recognized by TaxWatch. She also gives credit to the departments at FSU that help make the program successful,including recycling, housing and residence life and surplus.

“I’m thankful that the whole Chuck it team is being recognized,” Swiman said. “It’s great to be recognized as a program that the university is proud of and that is considered innovative and value-added to the organization and community.”

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or Twitter @byrondobson.

Other local university-related winners:

Cash awards:

Florida A&M University:College of Law Information Technology Team

Florida State University: Joe O'Shea


Florida A&M University: Law Library Public/Technical Services Cross-Trainer Team

Florida State University: Library Express Delivery Team; Steven Fryman; Health Insurance Subsidy Benefit Team; Telecom Vendor Contract Compliance Program; Cellular Allowance Program Implementation Team.

For more information, visit: http://www.floridataxwatch.org