Boston University: thinking outside the mailbox

Project Mailbox donation box on Commonwealth Avenue.

Since last year, Project Mailbox has collected pocket change from Boston University students in an effort to make a big difference in Boston, throughout the U.S., and the world.

The non-profit, started by two Boston University alums, started in October 2011, when Kaylee Dombrowski and Nick Dougherty put a plan into action that spawned from the simple idea that a little change can really add up.

The hope was that if each of the 16,000 undergraduate students at Boston University put a quarter a month into the group’s red and white mailbox, more than $4,000 could be raised for charity.

While Project Mailbox is not quite there yet, it has managed to send hundreds of dollars each month to seven different charities.

“Most of the time it’s just change,” Dougherty said, adding that every now and then they’ll open their cast-iron mailbox to find actual paper money or even checks. “But most of the time its hundreds and hundreds of pennies. But I don’t care about that. I’m just really excited that maybe 250 people put 250 coins in the box. That, for me, is the special part — that they’re really going out of their way to put change in the box.”

Each month, nominations are submitted to select the charity of the month, which alternates between local and international charities. Dombrowski explains this factor is important to “ensure equal opportunity for the chapter to serve its immediate and global community.”

At the monthly meetings, members of the Boston University community come together to listen to the nominations and vote for the next month’s charity.

Since its launch, Project Mailbox has raised more than $2,700 in pocket change, which averages at around $225 each month.

“I think it’s been pretty successful given how new we are. We are coming up on just one year,” said Dombrowski.

Organizers soon hope to launch other chapters in Boston-area campuses, which means more mailboxes.

“I know (Boston University). I’m not going to know what Boston College culture is like, or Harvard culture,” Dougherty said. Only students from those campuses will know what their students will respond to. We don’t want (those mailboxes) to stick out. Ours is red and white because those are the (Boston University) colors. It just needs to be locked, secured, bolted down.”

More information is available on the Project Mailbox Facebook page and Twitter account (@ProjectMailbox).


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