By Bianca Cheney / Special to the Daily Record
What started out as research for a craft idea for teenagers using recyclable materials has led to a community project to exchange bottle caps and small container lids for beautiful park benches.
The project is designed with youth in mind — to collect, clean, sort and weigh bottle caps and various types of lids. A mentor/teacher agrees to supervise the process and to teach about recycling and the value of caring for our Earth. A sponsor is selected that will pay for the bench and transportation costs to deliver caps and bring benches to Roswell. The company converting lids and caps is located in Indiana, so fortunately benches are loaded right after caps are delivered and weighed, which means only one trip. Because of this distance, organizers are waiting until enough has been collected to earn eight benches (1,600 pounds).
In Roswell, the first group to jump in and participate was All Saints Catholic School. The students received flyers that listed the types of caps and lids to collect right after spring break. They were asked to collect over the summer and to invite friends and family to also collect.
About the same time, it was learned that MainStreet Roswell was looking into grants to fund new benches for downtown. This “a-ha” moment started the ball rolling for a great partnership between the school and the MainStreet group. MainStreet went the extra step to volunteer to drive the caps and lids to Indiana at no cost to the school.
Molly Boyles at MainStreet Roswell was excited to help and posted information on their Facebook page about the project. She immediately started receiving requests for more information and drop-off locations. One person had been saving for several years for another group and when she realized they weren’t collecting anymore — organizers helped clear her garage with a pick-up full. Now they had to find a place to store these because the school didn’t have room.
Chip Boardman at Hawk’s Automotive agreed to let them use a small corner of his shop to store all the bags and boxes until ready for the next step. See, quite a few people in the community are already involved.
Then school started and there was a chance to see how many pounds the students had collected over the summer. Two students, Abraham Vandenburg and Steven Xu, helped load the pick-up after what they had was weighed — about 180 pounds. Off it went to Hawk’s.
On Oct. 13, a group of volunteers from All Saints School, MainStreet Roswell and the Cheney and Wright families spent a few hours starting the process of sorting and weighing. The sorting is to check and make sure only acceptable items have been donated and that they are clean. Any trash, metal, glass, containers, bags and such need to be removed, and the caps should be clean: Clean your caps before donating them.
Several piles were made and once a container of acceptable lids was full, it was weighed and then emptied into a gaylord box. The City of Roswell Landfill purchased gaylord boxes for magazines and books that are no longer being accepted for recycling and was able to provide these to the project.
It is estimated that this huge cardboard box will hold approximately 300-400 pounds, which will be super easy for transporting and unloading in Indiana. The students used their math skills to keep a tally of what was being put into the gaylord; at the end of three hours 323 pounds had been sorted. There was still a huge pile of donations left, so another sorting day is planned soon.
Others joining the project are Thalia Pantoja from Keep Roswell Beautiful. She worked with the Roswell Museum and Art Center to generate recycling and reusing awareness with a mural designed by Bailey Coll and created by students attending the recent Science and Art Fair at the Roswell Convention Center. Caps were glued onto three 3 x 6 foot wooden frames that will be connected to make the mural of CAPitan Mountain, displayed in Roswell for all to see. Various colored caps were donated to the museum for this project and those not used have been donated for benches.
Immanuel Lutheran School has decided to join the fun and work towards earning their own benches. Volunteer Aryn Overcash was met at the Nature’s Dairy building and helped load quite a few boxes of brand new, clean, milk-jug caps donated by Jeff Sapp and Gerald Greathouse to help the cause.
If you would like your youth organization (scouts, school, youth group, 4H/FFA, band, football, etc.) to participate, please call 622-1820 for more information. Each bench takes 200 pounds of caps and lids plus $250-$300 (gray or colored). There will also be travel and installation costs and of course, it would be great to have nameplates added when the benches arrive in Roswell. Financial assistance is also welcome.