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NORMAL - Illinois State University officials say they're working hard to salvage as much of what's inside the campus' oldest dorms before tearing the buildings down this summer.

Walker and Dunn-Barton halls, both nearly 60 years old, are being demolished to make room for a nearly $44 million student fitness center.

Thousands of items from the dorms - everything from mattresses, doorknobs, dressers and hallway "exit" signs - are being saved, either to be reused on campus, stored for later use, offered to other state institutions or donated to non-profit agencies that serve the needy.

"We want to keep things out of the landfill," said Maureen Blair, ISU's university housing director.

Items like conference room furniture will be moved to other ISU buildings. But much of the rest of the furniture is being donated to nonprofit agencies that help the needy in central Illinois and around the world.

The St. Anthony Outreach Missionary, a program of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bloomington, is receiving more than 2,200 mattresses.

It plans to distribute them to central Illinois families, to a charity helping Iraqi and Afghan war refugees living in Kentucky and to a Catholic nun operating a medical clinic and school in Central America. St. Anthony's also plans to distribute 200 ISU desks to Tanzania.

Earlier this week, about 20 St. Mary's parishioners formed a line in Walker Hall, passing along twin mattresses to more volunteers waiting inside a truck.

"It's nice we're able to use these resources to help out people," said Bill Ducett of Normal, an ISU education professor and St. Mary's parishioner.

Other donations include 800 desk chairs and 200 dressers to Bloomington-based Recycling for Families and nearly 900 bunk-bed frames and 700 desks to New Day Church in Decatur.

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