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Paper recycling program making money

December 19, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A nonprofit organization's paper recycling program is producing enough revenue to support Shepherd University students studying environmental studies with a scholarship and to provide tuition for middle school students to attend a state-sponsored conservation camp.

Berkeley Community Pride Inc. has collected more than 370,000 pounds of shredable paper since the group first launched a one-day paper drive as a United Way Day of Caring project in September 2004, according to president Bill Klingelsmith.

The sale of the recyclable paper has generated about $19,000, Klingelsmith said last week after the organization's partnership with Shepherd University Foundation was announced.

"It's been a nice revenue stream for us at BCP," Klingelsmith said. "It keeps a lot of our programs solvent."

The paper drive is held the second Saturday of every other month from 8 a.m. until noon at the Quad/Graphics plant near Martinsburg. The next event will be in January. Temporary signs are put up to direct participants to the drop-off location at the plant off Caperton Boulevard.

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Newspapers, magazines, phone books, loose leaf paper and clean cardboard that is free of metal are accepted.

BCP board member Ron Gunderson, credited the organization's "strong partnership" with Quad/Graphics for making the program possible. The paper is chipped and baled, then sold on the paper market, and 100 percent of the proceeds are returned to BCP, according to Klingelsmith, a member of the company's management team.

Established as an anti-litter group in 2001, BCP became a nonprofit organization in February 2003 and has since broadened its mission to encourage environmental stewardship, said Gunderson, who stepped down as president last year.

With the addition of the Shepherd University Foundation partnership, Klingelsmith said BCP now is engaged in education programs from elementary school level through college. The $500 Shepherd University scholarship will be awarded each spring to an Eastern Panhandle student who majors in environmental studies, maintains a minimum GPA of 2.5, and participates in community and/or campus service. Shepherd University junior Jessica Curtis of Martinsburg was the first scholarship recipient.

Last month, BCP board members voted to sponsor up to seven Berkeley County middle school students to attend the West Virginia State Conservation Camp, which is supported by an array of state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, state Division of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Protection.

Klingelsmith said students will be chosen through a competitive process. The camp offers students the opportunity to meet with Natural Resource professionals, explore potential careers, learn new skills and meet lifelong friends from across the state.

The scholarship and conservation camp award programs join the organization's ongoing support of the Berkeley County Science Fair, where students with the top placing environmental projects receive cash prizes from BCP, Gunderson said.

In the spring, elementary students take part in a grocery bag art program. Paper grocery bags are donated from area stores and distributed to third- and fourth-grade classrooms, where students decorate the bags with anti-litter-related art. The bags are sent back to the stores, where they are distributed to customers who choose paper over plastic.

"Some of them are very inventive," said Berkeley County Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield, who founded BCP.

Aside from education initiatives, the paper drive revenue also helped BCP purchase paper collection boxes for schools in the county and for participants of the paper drive, Gunderson said.

For more information about the Shepherd University Foundation-BCP scholarship, individuals may contact Monica Lingenfelter at the Foundation at 304-876-5397 or send e-mail to mlingenf@shepherd.edu.

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