Foster School wins statewide Wal-Mart recycling contest

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Wal-Mart officials presented two checks totaling $8,675 to Foster School on June 2 for collecting and turning in the most plastic sacks of any school in the state as part of Wal-Mart’s recycling program.

Lebanon Wal-Mart manager Pam Zieman told Foster students, during an assembly, that it takes more than 1,000 years for a plastic sack to decompose.

When the sacks get into the ocean, they can kill sea life, as undersea creatures mistake decomposing plastic sacks for jellyfish.

In addition to cash, which will be used to pay for an artist in residence, field trips and outdoor school, Wal-Mart also provided $500 worth of playground toys and sports gear to the school and provided a tree to be planted on campus to commemorate the students’ effort to help the environment by reducing waste and recycling.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” Zieman said. “One thousand thirty-five bags, that’s phenomenal, and the kids were so happy. That’s the reward we got. I’m just super-sized proud of these kids at Foster.”

“Last year, we got second place,” Foster Principal Glenna DeSouza said. That was a $2,000 check from Wal-Mart.

“We doubled the number of bags we brought in,” DeSouza said. Last year, the first place school brought in 680 60-gallon bags.

“It was a way to have a fund-raiser without parents having to dip into their own pockets,” DeSouza said. “It started as a way to earn money for outdoor school.”

Often, when students go on field trips, there is a fee and transportation costs, DeSouza said. As this program has grown, it has started helping pay for that as well as the artist in residence programs.

Since October, elementary school students across the state have filled 60-gallon bags with plastic sacks of all kinds and delivered them to their local Wal-Mart stores. Schools received $5 per filled 60-gallon bag.

For winning, the school received a second check, for $3,000.

Since the program began in 2004, nearly 1,400 tons of plastic bags have been recycled, earning schools more than $1.2 million from Wal-Mart.

This year, 124 Oregon schools participated in the competition, recycling 9,130 60-gallon bags totaling $146,080 pounds.

The challenge was open to schools in 12 states.

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