When the bell rings on the last day of school, the last thing students are thinking about is what to do with their used school supplies. This year, six schools in Contra Costa County have participated in an end-of-school-year program to collect and divert those school supplies from the landfill.
In total, over 2,200 pounds of school supplies were diverted for reuse to benefit teachers and students at hard hit local schools in East and West Contra Costa County. These recipient schools are classified as Title One schools, meaning more than 40% of the school’s students come from low-income families.
This is the fourth year in a row that Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste) organized the program, in cooperation with dedicated teachers and administrators at each of the participating schools. Years ago, Republic Services’ recycling coordinators noticed that many students and schools were throwing out gently-used school supplies that were still in great working condition. Meanwhile, schools in the same county were struggling to stock their classrooms with adequate supplies, and many of the families attending these schools cannot afford everything on the back-to-school shopping list.
Republic Services delivered barrels and carts to seven participating donor schools during the first week of June. Participating schools included Camino Pablo Elementary in Moraga, Los Cerros Middle and San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Meher School in Lafayette, Orinda Intermediate School in Orinda, Las Juntas Elementary in Martinez, and Rancho Romero Elementary in Alamo. Dedicated teachers and staff at each school supported the program. Some schools, such as Camino Pablo, went as far as sending out reminders to parents via email to bring in gently-used backpacks and lunch boxes, and collected more than just the traditional school supplies – they donated over 20 baseball bats from their physical education program, and a couple carts full of reading books!
Upon collecting barrels and boxes full of supplies, Republic Services contracted with Commercial Support Services, an operation of Contra Costa ARC, to sort and pack all of the supplies. Commercial Support Services provides programs and employment to adults with developmental disabilities, and has locations in Antioch, Concord and Richmond.
This year, the 2,200 pounds of supplies included over 150 lbs of crayons, 120 lbs of markers, and 490 lbs of unused copy paper, all totaling over $10,000 worth of school materials!
These supplies were delivered to Title One schools in East and West Contra Costa County before school started in August. Recipient schools include Kennedy High School in Richmond, Bel Air Elementary and Riverview Middle School in Bay Point, and most of the schools in the Antioch Unified School District. In addition, some materials such as books, games and art supplies went to Contra Costa Child Protective Services.
Teachers at the Antioch Unified School district were overjoyed at receiving the supplies the past three years. Republic Services is proud to be part of this effort to help teachers make sure students have the basic necessities. Teachers in Title One schools often spend hundreds of dollars each year out of their own pocket for school supplies. Pencils, paper, markers, binders - all things people take for granted but are always in high demand at some of these schools.
The public can also help as well. Next time you clean out that junk drawer of pencils and pens think about donating them to a school. The teachers appreciate it. They really do.