UberGive makes ‘Moving Day’ donation friendly

Ride-sharing company picks up items for donation to The Salvation Army in Boston.

UberGive.DoGoodBy Drew Forster –

They come in droves—from across town, around the state, every time zone in the U.S. and all four corners of the globe. As home to one of the largest clusters of colleges and universities in the country, Boston is a temporary home to tens of thousands of students, who every fall must descend on the Massachusetts capital almost in unison, generating near chaos in the narrow streets of Boston and Cambridge.

It has become such a tradition here that they even have a name for this annual pilgrimage: in Boston, Sept. 1 is universally known as Moving Day, and this year, the ride-sharing company Uber wanted to make sure some good got done along with the packing, sweating and stress of it all. On the Sunday prior, Uber helped students get ahead of the chaos with a simple idea for making massive amounts of moving day clutter magically disappear.

Instead of just sharing a ride, the company encouraged app users to share their gently used items with The Salvation Army.

Uber users simply entered the code UberGive on the app and an SUV appeared at their door to whisk away pre-bagged and boxed clothing, as well as small household items. Once their vehicles filled up, the drivers—who were compensated for their time—offloaded donations into Salvation Army trucks strategically stationed around Boston and Cambridge.

Uber drivers made over 400 unique donation pickups. “Everything worked really seamlessly,” said Eric Strader, who oversees operations for Uber Boston. “Our drivers were able to fill their vehicles and unload quickly.”

UberGive was based on similar partnerships with other nonprofits in New York and Baltimore, Md., as well as a previous effort with The Salvation Army in Austin, Texas.

Major Thomas Taylor of the Boston Adult Rehabilitation Center, which benefited from the initiative, was impressed. “Doing this for the first time, I wasn’t sure how much we could expect to collect. I thought maybe a truckload,” he said. Instead, they hauled in nearly three times that amount. “Each of the three trucks was more than three quarters full,” he said.

Taylor reported total weight of the donations reached nine tons, prompting local Salvation Army leaders to begin brainstorming about other partnership opportunities with the ride-sharing company.

Uber says it is on board.

“I think this really worked the way we all hoped it would,” Strader said. “We definitely look forward to what we can do together in the future.”

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