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December 4, 2014

Cleaning out closets? Help Pitt break world record

PrintCan the Pitt community break the Guinness World Record for the most clothing collected for donation or recycle?

The University has set a goal of 150,000 items — the equivalent of three Goodwill stores’-worth of clothing — in its Give A Thread collection, which aims to break the record of 146,411 items, set in Dubai last September by laundry product brands Comfort and OMO.

Donations of large clothing items such as shirts, pants, dresses, skirts and suits will be collected on the Pitt campuses and through community partners, culminating in a final count on Jan. 9 at the William Pitt Union.

A kickoff event is set for tomorrow, Dec. 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

Misti McKeehen, director of the Office of PittServes, said the idea of attempting a world record was hatched in Council of Deans discussions on ways to involve the entire campus community in Pitt’s Year of Sustainability efforts.

As potential record-breaking attempts were considered, “People got really excited about this one,” as opposed to other records such as “world’s largest collection of socks,” which didn’t tie in with the sustainability aspect of reusing and recycling, she said.

Clean, gently used items of clothing will be donated to groups including Goodwill; Dress for Success Pittsburgh, which provides women with interview and workplace attire; the University Career Development and Placement Office (to provide students in need with appropriate attire for interviews and job fairs) and agencies in the Pitt regional campus communities.

In addition, “We will instantly have the inventory” to stock a new on-campus thrift clothing store for Pitt students, she said. The “University of Thriftsburgh” concept sprang from a sustainability class student project. Details are still being finalized, but the goal is to launch the thrift store in spring term, McKeehen said.

Donations of smaller items such as accessories and footwear won’t count toward the world record, but the items will be kept out of landfills, she said.

Stained or torn items can be donated as well — Goodwill will shred items that can’t be reworn for use as filler or insulation, McKeehen said.


Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Greensburg each have set a 10,000-item goal and Pitt-Titusville is seeking to collect at least one item from each member of its campus community.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium have committed to collecting at least 1,000 items each to the Give A Thread campaign, she said.

Pitt-Johnstown, which is working with student groups for its collection, did not set a target number, McKeehen said.

On the Pittsburgh campus, collection bins will be set up in the William Pitt Union, residence halls and in school-based locations, McKeehen said.

At Pitt-Bradford, items may be dropped off 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays through Dec. 12 at the Seneca Building in downtown Bradford.

At Pitt-Greensburg, items may be dropped off 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Jan. 7 at the front desk in Chambers Hall or in donation boxes in all UPG academic buildings.

At Pitt-Johnstown, items may be dropped off 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Office of Student Life (G-61 Student Union) through Dec. 12.

At Pitt-Titusville, items may be dropped off through Jan. 6 in the Student Activities Office (SU217) or in the drop-off box in the Student Union lobby.

Items collected at the regional campuses will be brought to Pittsburgh for the Jan. 9 world record count, she said.


McKeehen said Give A Thread organizers hope that members of the University community will use the holiday break as a time not only to collect unwanted items from their own closets but to ask family and friends to donate items as well.

Throughout December, volunteers will sort the donated clothing and keep an estimated tally in anticipation of the official world record count, she said. Donated items will be stored in five-foot-tall collection bins, with Surplus Property aiding in the effort to manage the donations until the big day.

On Jan. 7, collected items will be brought into the William Pitt Union ballroom and the Kurtzman Room, with donations from the regional campuses set to arrive on Jan. 8, McKeehen said.

The official world record attempt on Jan. 9 will be videotaped as multiple teams count the presorted clothing items.

In keeping with the sustainable nature of the attempt, Guinness officials won’t be flying in from London to witness the event. Instead, the video and other documentation will be sent to them for review.

“We want to be able to say (the record is) held in Pittsburgh,” she said.

The world record count will serve as a precursor to Pitt’s Martin Luther King week of service, McKeehen noted.

Pitt’s MLK service week will begin on Jan. 10 with a poverty simulation, followed by service projects Jan. 11-18.

Opportunities include partnerships with Goodwill and Dress for Success to allow students to see where Give A Thread clothing donations are going, McKeehen said.


Faculty and staff can best help the Give A Thread effort by making donations of clothing. “Our No. 1 priority is collecting items for the clothing drive,” McKeehen said.

Opportunities for volunteers to lend a hand will be posted along with additional Give A Thread details and FAQs at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 8