Bucknell University to Three African Countries

Situation.  In advance of renovation, Bucknell University emptied all furniture from historic Roberts Hall dormitory.  Bucknell stipulated that IRN complete the project in not more than three days, over the weekend before Christmas.

Material Composition & Quantity:  Approximately 180 six-piece dorm sets (bed, mattress, dresser, desk, chair, bookshelf), 90 double wardrobes, plus miscellaneous items.

Setting:  Rural college campus in Lewisburg, PA (Pop 6,000) 60 miles north of Harrisburg, in east-central Pennsylvania.


Home to about 180 students, Roberts Hall is one of the oldest dormitories on the Bucknell campus.  Last renovated in the 1930s, the four-story building has two wings separated by a common entry hall.  There are no elevators.

Students occupied the dormitory through noon on December 18, a Friday.  Bucknell scheduled renovations to begin the following Monday afternoon, and asked IRN to manage removal and disposition of all Roberts Hall furnishings – nearly 2,000 pieces – in that three-day window, less than a week before Christmas.

IRN matched the furniture with our frequent partner World Vision, who were able to set up weekend trucking.  Bucknell provided two crews of experienced movers; IRN provided professional packers and onsite project management.

Filling a total of eight shipping containers, IRN completed the project on Saturday afternoon, 36 hours ahead of deadline.


The schedule and the building itself posed numerous challenges:  very short time-line; scheduling trucks over a weekend; lack of elevators.  The one favorable circumstance was that the building had two access points, so that two crews could work filling two trailers simultaneously.

Bucknell supplied the crews of movers, while IRN supplied professional packers to load the trailers.  Bucknell also addressed the challenge posed by the lack of elevators.  Bucknell staff removed a window from each floor of the building, and rented scissor-lifts capable of reaching the top floor.  Acting as elevators, the lifts made it possible to bring furnishings down from upper floors without recourse to using the stairwells.

The scissor lifts were not, however, as fast as elevators.  For this reason, IRN scheduled only one container to arrive on Friday, 12/18, and seven to arrive on Saturday, 12/20.  After the one container was filled on Friday, the crew spent the rest of the day bringing furniture down on the lifts and staging it to be loaded on Saturday.  On Saturday morning, the crew split up.  One group loaded trailers with the staged furniture, while another group continued to bring furniture down on the lifts.  As a result, virtually no crew time was lost waiting for furniture to be brought to the trailers.

With this efficient system in place, IRN and the Bucknell crew were able to load seven containers on Saturday, with an average load time less than two hours.

The final critical service at Bucknell was provided by the freight forwarder, Missionary Expediters.  Securing containers and drivers for weekend work is never easy, and scheduling a project less than a week before Christmas doesn’t help.  Missionary Expediters collaborated closely with IRN’s logistics staff to get containers and drivers in place and keep them on schedule, even with last minute schedule and inventory adjustments requested by Bucknell.


IRN’s partner World Vision was able to place all of the Bucknell inventory, and deserves much of the credit for making this project click in the week before Christmas.  The eight containers were divided among three World Vision projects, in Mauritania and Mali in northwest Africa, and Lesotho, southern Africa.

We welcome your questions or comments, and please let us know if you have a project that will have surplus, where reuse may be a better option than throwing good furnishings away.

Click here for a PDF version of this case study.

Scroll to Top