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Youngsters turn empty bottles into worldwide aid

Posted: May 20, 2008 7:02 p.m.
Updated: July 21, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Will McCool, left, holds open a box of old water bottles that the students at Pinetree Elementary are collecting to help raise donations for international relief organizations. James Davis (second from left) is walking up with another bag of bottles as Christina Harvey and her brother Will Harvey empty the bottles into a recycling container.

 
When it comes to recycling plastic bottles, the 760 students at Pinetree Community School have earned an A+.

For the entire school year, the students, led by the student council and school officials, have been collecting their empty water, juice and milk bottles.

The result of their months of effort is $600, which was used to purchase animals through Heifer International, an worldwide relief organization that offers aid to people in struggling countries.

The recycling fundraiser was a first for the elementary school, according to the student council and Bev Farrell-Smith, assistant principal.

"We just wanted to help out people who don't have what we have," said 12-year-old William Harvey, student council president.

Throughout the school year, students left their empty water bottles in classroom bins. Using the student run television network, the council broadcasted their needs to every classroom during the morning news
briefs. As part of the daily broadcasts, Farrell-Smith said the students communicated the goal of Heifer International by showing a DVD sent by the organization.

From there, the 30 or so members of the student council collected the bottles for Office Assistant Stacy Reyes to take to a recycling location.

Harvey, and his 10-year-old sister Christina, who serves as vice president for the student council, said when the time came to meet and discuss what they would purchase through Heifer International, they made sure their donation would help as many families as possible.

With their $600, the students were able to buy one llama, one water buffalo, a gift of rabbits, a flock of chicks and geese, a heifer, sheep and a pig.

The Harveys said each animal offers assistance in its own way, whether it is wool, milk or meat for protein.
The success of their fundraiser has given the president and vice president a reason to be proud.

"It just makes me feel good that I can help out," William Harvey said.

Christina agreed and added that she feels good that she was able to save a life by donating animals.

Tracy Ahart, co-advisor of the student council with Dana Wiltz, said the experience gave students an idea of how far water bottles go when it comes to helping needy countries.

"I think they have now gained a greater appreciation for recycling," Ahart said. "They were surprised at the fact that when they recycled their bottles, they were able to get $600 worth."

Ahart said that the fundraiser and efforts of the student council also serves as a role model for fellow classmates.

"Your trash that can be recycled can turn into money and help somebody that is less fortunate," she said.
But the fundraiser is not a one-time thing for the school.

Ahart and Christina Harvey said they have already begun collecting water bottles for next year's fundraiser.

Harvey hopes to exceed $600 and Ahart said they have been discussing donating their cash to not only Heifer International, but also an organization that distributes medical supplies to the people of countries in need.

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