As the economy worsens, students are feeling the sting of limited funds just as badly as the rest of the country.
Saint Mary's Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC) is giving students the opportunity to not only watch their wallets, but also help the environment at the same time, through the Saint Mary's Free Store, which will have its grand opening Sept. 6 from 2 to 6 p.m.
The store - located in the basement of LeMans Hall - is full of goods donated by students who no longer needed them.
At the end of the year, or the end of the Christmas break, anyone with items they cannot take home, but are still in good condition, can donate them to the free store. Then other students can go through them and take any items they need, said Ashley Cook, president of SMEAC.
"We opened the free store so that students have an opportunity to use items that would otherwise be thrown away," Cook said. "This saves students money and saves the environment by reducing the amount of trash."
The group does accept donations year round, and students who have something to give can leave it outside the free store in a container labeled 'donation.'
The idea for the free store came two years ago when Dr. Louise Weber, a professor at Warren Wilson College, suggested it during a lecture here on campus, Cook said.
"The main purpose of the free store is to get students to reuse items instead of throwing them away," she said. "This keeps items out of the trash and gives students an opportunity to pick up something they might need instead of buying it new."
During the semester, the store will be open for regular hours on Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.
According to Cook, other events for the year include cleaning up the beach, raising money for the World Wildlife Fund, going on a nature walk, watching environmentally related films and going on a trip to the zoo.
The mission of the club is to make the College and the surrounding South Bend community more environmentally aware, Cook said.
They have teamed up with faculty to make recycling more available to students, and last year was the first year that students had bins available to them in their residences.
"We hope that our presence on campus will influence students in a positive way by making them think about the impact they have on the environment," Cook said.