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Recycling program benefits mission, community

June 19, 2006|by JANET HEIM

It might be the best-kept secret in town, but Howard Rudolph and Paul Reid know about it and are happy to support it.

The secret is the cardboard recycling program run by the Union Rescue Mission. It helps solve the age-old dilemma of what to do with clean cardboard boxes, including small ones received through the mail and large appliance boxes.

On a recent Tuesday, there was a steady stream of cars and trucks contributing to the collection.

The program's benefits are many: it provides work for the men who stay at the mission, keeps cardboard and newspaper out of the landfills and provides some income for the mission.

The cardboard is collected in a warehouse, then baled and sold to Maryland Paper, said Mission Director Bruce "Sonny" Shank. On average, a tractor-trailer is filled every three weeks.

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Shank said he doesn't know how long the mission has been recycling cardboard, but said it was long before he became director 10 years ago. Someone dropping off cardboard, who declined to be identified, said he's been bringing cardboard to the mission for recycling since 1957, although the drop-off site was different years ago.

Clothing that doesn't sell in the thrift shop is also baled in the warehouse and sold to recyclers. Shank said he's not sure how the recyclers use it, but they probably re-sort it, and send some overseas and turn some into rags.

Reid, who lives in Spring Valley, has known about the program for many years because of his support of the mission. He said it helps the mission, which receives no government support, be self-supporting.

Rudolph said he uses the county recycling bins for plastic and newspapers, but brings deliveries of cardboard to the mission and brings newspapers when the county bins are full.

"We believe in the work of the mission. It's beneficial to everybody," Rudolph said of the cardboard and newspaper recycling program.

Shank said the cardboard recycling program is one of many the mission operates. The men who stay at the mission commit to a minimum four-month program and are required to work during their stay.

Jobs include cleaning buildings, working in the thrift store, grounds maintenance, working in the kitchen, and working in the warehouse or sorting area.

Jeffrey Sowell, of Philadelphia, has been staying at the mission for about a year. He recently switched to the cardboard warehouse from the kitchen.

"You get fed, have a place to sleep with electricity. That's pretty cool. It helps you get your life together," he said of the mission.

"Shady" Palmer, who has been at the mission for about a month, said he enjoys working in the cardboard recycling warehouse. He said it's more peaceful and calmer than some areas and enjoys the teamwork of the crew, which averages five men.

"The whole idea is to bring about change in their lives," Shank said.

The cardboard recycling program operates out of a building across from 128 N. Prospect St. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 2 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 to 11:30 a.m.

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