By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Surplus furniture from the University of Nebraska at Kearney is getting a second life at a school in India.
UNK recently donated 230 desks and around 40 chairs to Orphan Grain Train, a Norfolk-based nonprofit that sends clothing, food, medical supplies and other aid to needy people across the globe.
The items will end up at United International School in Bengaluru, India, which serves families living in poverty. Although classes are currently taught remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school plans to reopen in May with a new addition to accommodate 11th and 12th graders, allowing students to attend from pre-kindergarten through high school.
“This school is only possible through donations such as these desks,” said Suzie Leffers, director of public relations for Orphan Grain Train.
Along with helping them pursue a high school education, Leffers said the “new” furniture instills pride in students.
“When these children receive the desks, it’s amazing,” she said.
Orphan Grain Train partners with United Evangelical Mission India and India Transformed to support United International School. Last fiscal year, Orphan Grain Train provided more than $47 million in humanitarian aid and food to people in need. The nonprofit serves nearly 70 countries, including the U.S.
The desks and chairs heading to India came from two buildings on the UNK campus – Copeland Hall, which was previously remodeled, and Otto Olsen, which is scheduled for demolition this spring.
“Giving these items a new life is a much better option than seeing them get tossed in a landfill,” said UNK Facilities Management and Planning business manager Megan Telecky.
Facilities Management included the furniture in an online surplus auction, but there was little interest from buyers, and Telecky also reached out to Kearney schools to see if there was a local need.
Looking to avoid the landfill, which would have a negative environmental impact and cost UNK money for disposal fees, Facilities Management contacted Orphan Grain Train and a semitrailer arrived on campus last week to pick up the donation.
“We’re thrilled to see these items find a new home where they can make a positive impact on students,” Telecky said.
UNK has donated surplus items to Orphan Grain Train in the past, including in 2018 when the nonprofit received chairs, desks and 225 residence hall mattresses.