Rummage in the Ramp had been a staple of Iowa City summers for more than a decade, providing people moving mid-summer, and others with unwanted items at home, a way of getting rid of furniture and other household goods without sending them to the landfill. But COVID-19 canceled last year’s rummage, and concerns over the course of the pandemic were still very much top-of-mind for the event’s organizers in February.
“We weren’t really sure from a public health standpoint where we would be by July,” Iowa City Recycling Coordinator Jane Wilch told Little Village.
So a new model with the same goal will be used this summer: Pop-up Donation Drops.
The first two pop-ups — temporary sites where people can donate unwanted but usable items — will be on Saturday. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., donations will be accepted at Wetherby Park (2400 Taylor Dr), and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be a pop-up site in the parking lot of the old University Club (1360 Melrose Ave, UI Lot 73).
“There will be drive-up sites with small receiving areas, where we’ll have staff that can help unload items,” Wilch explained.
The most obvious change from Rummage in the Ramp is that the donated items will not be going on sale to the public. Instead, the city has partnered with nonprofits who will directly collect the donations at the pop-ups.
Houses to Homes — a nonprofit that provides gently used “furniture, and household items for families and individuals… who are exiting homelessness, domestic violence, and other crisis situations” in Johnson County, as its site explains — and the Salvation Army will be collecting items at the pop-ups.
Volunteers from the two organizations will be accepting donations of used but useable furniture, household items, small electronic and appliances (but no mini-fridges), clothing and bedding (but no mattresses, pillows or futons). Just as with Rummage in the Ramp, no broken items, hazardous materials, toiletries or hygiene items will be accepted.
The pop-ups will also be accepting donations of unopened canned or boxed food, which will be collected by Table to Table, for distribution to people in need.
Wilch said including donations of shelf-stable food seemed like a natural addition, since people moving out of apartments often have those items still in their kitchen cabinets.
The pop-ups will also be an opportunity for people to safely dispose of old batteries that may be cluttering up their junk drawers. Dumped into the garbage with other items, old batteries can cause fires in a landfill. In December, the Hazardous Material Collection Facility at the Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center (3900 Hebl Ave SW) began collecting old batteries for recycling. Batteries can also be dropped off at Iowa City Fire Station #2 West (301 Emerald St), and both of the city’s Ace Hardware Stores.
The pop-up model got a tryout in May with three sites being set up at the University of Iowa to give students moving out of their dorm rooms an alternative to throwing still useful items into Dumpsters.
“Being that it was dorm rooms, we got a lot of collapsible furniture, lightweight shelving and totes,” Wilch said. “All things House into Homes and the Salvation Army really can utilize to help further their missions.”
The program will continue in July, with pop-ups on the second and the last Saturdays of the month.
Saturday, July 10:
• Market Street parking lot (next to Bluebird Diner, in between Linn St and Gilbert St), 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, July 31:
• Happy Hollow Park (800 Brown St), 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Mercer Park (1317 Dover St), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.