Students help homeless before they head home!

Rovers Society members at the collection point outside the Students' Union Shop in NUI Galway (from left) Fionn Delahunty, Hannah Jansen, James O'Connell, Cecile Collot and Amy McMahon. Photo: Niamh Cullen.

This week sees thousands of third-level students depart Galway, with the last exam wrapped up – many of them dreading the thought of throwing out all those needless bits and bobs accumulated over the year.

But their clean-out burden can be lessened by NUI Galway’s Rover Society, which has come up with a way to help the homeless and departing students at the same time.

The quick-thinking society is passing on unwanted items to those who desperately need it with by hosting collections in student accommodation hotspots around the city.

From now until May 20, students and the public alike can stop off at a designated collection point and leave their items to be enjoyed by those in need.

Clothing, raingear, non-perishable foods, socks, footwear, blankets duvets, arts materials, books and DVDs are just some of the many items which can be donated for use.

“We are absolutely delighted with the response we have received so far,” said Rover Soc’s Projects Officer Fionn Delahunty.

“We’ve taken in countless boxes amounting to over 50 bin bags worth of useable items within the last three weeks. We’ve drawn in the assistance of over 20 core Rover Soc volunteers, in addition to great support from the university,” he added.

Collection points include many spots within NUI Galway’s campus, including the Students’ Union Shop and Office, Smokie’s Café and the Engineering Building. Other areas include Corrib Village, Gort na Coiribe and Menlo Park Apartments.

Certain areas were of particular interest to the Rover Soc, as volunteers were street smart in choosing their pick up spots.

“In Gort na Coiribe, students are required to bring and take away their own duvets,” explained Fionn.

“That means that around 100 duvets are dumped every semester from the complex. We knew that targeting this area would mean securing such much needed basics for the homeless, while recycling at the same time,” he said.

All items will be donated to COPE Galway’s homelessness service.

“We are delighted with the efforts made by NUI Galway’s Rover Society,” said Martin O’Connor of COPE Galway.

“These are items that people may otherwise struggle to get due to being homeless, and are of invaluable worth to those who we work with. The ongoing generosity of students in Galway is really appreciated and makes a big difference to the services that we can provide.”

The Rover Society is aimed at those who are currently involved in Scouts and Guides clubs, or for those who have no experience but would like a taster of the scouting world.

Though their main ambitions involve outdoor pursuits, the society is no stranger in getting charitable.

Last year, they made headlines collecting over a whopping 1,000 sleeping bags at the Electric Picnic festival for the homeless in Galway.

The astounding feat came as part of the society’s “Festival Phase” which involves volunteers heading to the end of big events and collecting what may have otherwise been thrown away.

The group also collected almost 40 pop-up tents at last year’s Sea Sessions event, which they then cleaned, recycled and sold at an affordable price to students.

This festival season, the society has high hopes in their bids to get the idea of reusing and recycling spinning.

“We are hitting many events this summer, and Electric Picnic will again be one of them,” said Fionn.

“We want to build on the amount of sleeping bags we received last month – and hopefully double or even triple what we received!”