Most people give red roses or carnations on Valentine’s Day, but this year a group of Harvard undergraduates gave colorful gifts of another variety.
The Resource Efficiency Program (REP) worked with Harvard Recycling and Waste Management to bring 75 pounds of nail polish, makeup and assorted toiletries to the Cambridge Family Shelter in the YWCA in Central Square.
Students from the REP sought contributions door-to-door in first-year dorms and postered the upperclass Houses requesting donations. Recycling and Waste Management helped transport the collected items to the shelter.
Quincy House Co-Master Jayne Loader came up with the idea three years ago, when a speaking engagement took her husband, Co-Master Robert P. Kirshner, away for Valentine’s Day. Loader said she decided to spend the holiday doing something more “positive” than whining and complaining.
After contacting several local homeless shelters, Loader said she was surprised to find that unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, shelters did not have special events planned for Valentine’s Day.
“If spending the day by yourself, alone, in your beautiful apartment, with warm clothes on your back, a faithful dog at your side, a full refrigerator and a box of chocolates...is depressing, imagine how depressing it must be to be alone on V-Day in a shelter,” she wrote in an e-mail message.
So Loader wrapped her extra cosmetics in pink paper and brought the packages to the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston.
The following year, Rob Gogan, supervisor of Harvard Recycling and Waste Management of Harvard Operations, and Ann Porter, co-master of Dunster House, both joined the effort.
“We do it because it is part of our mission to divert unwanted cosmetics away from disposal and towards those who can use them,” Gogan wrote in an e-mail.
He also said that members of the administration chipped in.
“A woman who got married this summer got lots of Clinique make-up that she doesn’t use, so we had this brick of a shoebox loaded with lots of pink tubes,” he said.
According to Gogan, students living in Cabot and Adams houses donated the most cosmetics.
Caroline L. Schopp ’07, an REP representative for the first-year dorms, wrote in an e-mail that she had an “exciting experience” going from door to door in Wigglesworth asking her dorm mates to donate their unwanted cosmetics.
“[W]ho knew there were so many scented bars of soap going unused and unopened nailpolishes!” she said.