Volunteers in Action: GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club, GFWC Iowa Solon Women’s Club, and GFWC South Carolina
November 16, 2021
For America Recycles Day on November 15, clubwomen across the country organized projects to participate in the 2018-2020 Reduce Plastic Use: Refuse, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle GFWC Challenge Project. Clubwomen did their part to clean up trash, donate plastics for recycling, and spread awareness and education about the importance of taking care of the environment. These club stories are only a few of the many examples of how members are working hard to clean up and protect the world around us as part of GFWC’s Environment Community Service Program.
GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club
GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club (Florida) members are doing their part to clean up the environment by participating in various recycling challenges this year. Clubwoman Patty Fisher said one project the club participated in was collecting more than 1,300 plastic bottles to be recycled or upcycled, as well as several pounds of plastic bags.
Along with this recycling project, as GFWC Florida Environment Community Service Program Chairman, Patty said she loves to challenge members throughout the state to find new ways to make a difference in the world around them. One of these ways is by participating in the NexTrex Recycling Challenge, during which participants are tasked with collecting 500 pounds of unwanted plastic materials in a six-month period. The list of collectible plastics include items that are not permitted in curbside recycling, such as plastic grocery bags, newspaper bags, case plastic wrap, bubble wrap, and more. If participants are successful in collecting the 500 pounds of plastic, they will receive a bench from NexTrex.
Patty said the GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club began participating in this project on Monday, November 15, along with several other community organizations.
“I have every confidence we will collect those 500 pounds in the six months,” she said, adding if they are able to achieve this goal, the club plans to donate the bench.
Patty explained the Education and Arts and Culture Community Service Program areas are also involved with this project. She said clubwomen have worked to create educational coloring books for kids about recycling that will be distributed to students in the local school during a discussion about the importance of taking care of the environment.
While recycling is necessary and important, Patty said she hopes to see more efforts focused on awareness and legislation.
“Recycling is still good, but I want to see more education,” she said.
GFWC Iowa Solon Women’s Club
Members of GFWC Iowa Solon Women’s Club (Iowa) have been busy collecting and recycling cigarette butts around their community in an effort to protect their environment. Club President Kim Hawkins said club member and GFWC Environment Community Service Program Chairman Karen Martinek learned about a recycling contest that promoted awareness about cigarettes and cigarette butts sponsored by TerraCycle, and thought it would be a good project for clubwomen. TerraCycle offers free recycling programs to help people collect and recycle hard-to-recycle waste around the world.
Kim explained cleaning up cigarette butts is particularly important because when they are scattered in streets, ditches, and roadways, they can eventually end up into the waterways and water supply.
To combat this, she said clubwomen spent an evening collecting trash, bottles for recycling, and cigarette butts throughout the area in popular gathering locations, such as parking lots, street corners, fishing holes, and other places where people congregate.
“Next time you see a GFWC Iowa Solon Women’s Club member looking around trash cans, crawling under bleachers, checking street corners and gutters, and roaming ditches and roadways, know they are helping our environment by collecting cigarette butts for recycling,” Kim said.
GFWC South Carolina
Clubwomen throughout GFWC South Carolina rallied together to participate in a recycling service project to collect empty plastic pill bottles for Matthew 25 Ministries. This organization accepts donations of pill bottles for inclusion in shipments of medical supplies to countries in need and for shredding and recycling. Darlene Rittel, member of GFWC Sand River Woman’s Club (South Carolina) and GFWC South Carolina Environment Community Service Program Chairman, said she received two car loads of pill bottles from clubwomen throughout the state. In total, she received 774 clean bottles and 737 bottles that still had their labels.
“I thought that it was an amazing response,” Darlene said. She added members also contributed plastic bags and large plastic bottles for recycling and upcycling.
Darlene said the GFWC Sand River Woman’s Club plans to continue to donate to Matthew 25 Ministries, and she is hopeful that other clubs throughout the state will do so as well.
In addition to this project, she said educating the public about plastics, their impact on the environment, and what people can do is necessary.
“It’s always important to educate at all levels,” she said. “…As we become more aware, the more likely you are to do something about it. There is something you can do. You can contact your legislator. You can get out there and pick up litter.”
Darlene is also a board member of Keep Aiken County Beautiful, an affiliate of Keep South Carolina Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, and was recently awarded Board Member of the Year from the state level for her work related to the environment.
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For more than three decades Bonnie Peat worked in various leadership positions in the aerospace field and was a staunch promoter of women in the workforce. After retiring in 2019, she joined the GFWC Woman’s Club of Cypress in California.
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