For 15 years a free after-school program for children ages eight to 12 has kept afloat in downtown Trail thanks, in part, to donations of recyclable cans and bottles.
Last year alone, volunteers with Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre sorted through thousands of bags of tin and glass then returned all empties to the bottle depot for cash.
In doing so, they collected $25,000 for the cause.
Understandably, the sorters are becoming weary after so many years of helping with the often messy recycling job.
That’s why the Generation to Generation Society, a nonprofit overseer of Sanctuary, is putting out an SOS for more hands-on help.
“Unfortunately we have become the victims of our own success,” Barbara Gibson, society chair, told the Trail Times.
“We have the recycle shed at the landfill where people drop off their refundable recyclables, and it is a great source of fundraising, making up almost one quarter of our budget,” she explained.
“But we have only a few volunteers to help with sorting and counting and they are fast burning out. We would like to recruit some additional volunteers.”
Signing on requires a commitment of a few hours each week. The duties are flexible as are the days to help out.
Volunteers generally go up to the landfill to sort and count cans and/or bottles on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
“It’s a huge job,” said Gibson. “There are some days you can’t even see the back of the shed for all the bags.”
She says the biggest load is usually on Sundays. This past weekend, for example, Gibson counted 1,600 beer cans, 800 pop cans, 690 under-one-litre bottles, and 75 over-one-litre bottles.
“So if a little dirty work doesn’t bother you and you have a few hours a week to spare to help, please call us,” she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call the Bay Avenue locale at 250.368.6142.
Sanctuary has been open since September 1998. Roughly 50 pre-teen children visit on an ongoing basis, with 18 to 25 children attending each day and about 12 to 20 staying for supper each night.
The goal is to provide a safe environment where children can learn a better way of interacting with each other, the volunteers, and their world.
Three weeks into the school year, and there is still space for a few new children in grades 2 through 7, says coordinator Leanne DeBiasio.
“Our only requirement is that the children be in the correct age group, and they have their Sanctuary paperwork filled out,” she explained.
The program means that parents can work at lower wage jobs, knowing their children are taken care of on weekdays.
“Most of the families have lower than average incomes, but a mixture of children is good for everyone,” DeBiasio said.
“The biggest benefit for the children is that we focus on positive self esteem and social skills while providing a variety of activities and lots of healthy food.”