WATERVILLE (AP) -Nilanjana “Nel” Dutt stood next to a stack of three small refrigerators while recalling some of the clothes she’d recently inventoried: 258 pairs of women’s pants, 199 T-shirts, 40 winter hats. And the list went on.

The Colby College student is part of a 26-member team that sifts through mounds of discarded clothes, food and furniture left by fellow students following final exams and graduation.

Members of Project RESCUE, which stands for Recycle Everything, Save Colby’s Usable Excess, said they saw plenty of useful items in the garbage last week.

Scales, clocks, mirrors, lamps, ice skates, bicycle helmets, piggy banks, paperback novels, computer printers, stereo systems, and even a few George Foreman Grills were found in the trash.

Dale DeBlois, Colby’s environmental initiatives coordinator, said the group keeps only houseware items that students could reuse in the dorms next year. Those are sold to first-year students in August. Everything else will be donated to charity.

over the next couple of weeks.

Organizers said they hope the project, which provides a windfall of goods to area charities, improves Colby’s image in the community.

“Last year we found a $2,000 dress with the price tag still on it,” DeBlois said. “A girl who couldn’t afford a dress for prom got it.”

The project, now in its second year, has greatly reduced the amount of waste the school sends to landfills each spring, DeBlois said.

Colby is one of several colleges and universities nationwide that donate items left behind after spring semester to local charities. Bates College in Lewiston is another.

Dutt, busy wrapping clothes hangers together with duct tape, said she hopes Colby’s program encourages students to be selective about what they leave behind. And if they aren’t, she said, at least their unwanted items will go to a good cause.

AP-ES-06-02-03 0215EDT

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