Recycling for Sport

Every summer, communities are bound to see children playing sports in area parks and recreation facilities. In Auburn, Calif., the recreation district is making that opportunity possible for all kids in the community through a recycling program. By recycling bottles and cans, the district is raising money for its Youth Assistance Fund, which allows area youth to participate in sports.

“We are a fairly smaller community so when school's out, there's a very limited amount of places that the children can go,” says Darrin Van Dyke, facilities coordinator for the Auburn Recreation District (ARD). “We, as a community, are starting to grow larger so we get more and more needs for those funds.”

About seven years ago, ARD established the Youth Assistance Fund to help eligible kids pay for a portion of or the entire amount required to participate in the district's activities. Through fundraisers and company and community donations, Auburn youth have the chance to enjoy programs including Little League baseball, swimming, soccer and youth development league basketball, as well summer and afterschool programs.

To increase contributions, an ARD board member and a former facilities and grounds manager started the recycling program at ARD about six weeks ago, noticing the potential to help neighborhood kids and the environment. “We're a park [and] we get so many beverage containers and we just throw them out, throw them out, throw them out,” Van Dyke says. After receiving a large amount of recyclable bottles and cans, Van Dyke began to redeem them, putting the money into the Youth Assistance Fund.

ARD set up three recycling centers with designated bins for plastic, aluminum and trash at picnic areas in parks. Recycling bins also were placed inside area gymnasiums. Every other week for six weeks, Van Dyke and other ARD employees have been emptying the bins and redeeming the materials. With each collection, Van Dyke says the district makes about $25 for the fund and so far has raised nearly $100 from recycling bottles and cans.

Although the program is still getting off the ground, Van Dyke already is hoping to have a community event for residents to bring in recyclables. “It's not like we're asking for anybody's money. We're really just asking for trash,” Van Dyke says. “People didn't really think that their trash had any value, which it does, but it just takes awhile for people to get onto that idea.”