Gifft Hill middle school students turned their trash into cash when they won second place in the V.I. Waste Management Authority’s “Don’t Trash Your Cans, Cash Your Cans” aluminum can contest.
The less than 50 fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students collected 1,536 cans in two weeks in December, beating out many of the district’s much bigger schools.
The students earned 20 cents per pound of cans they collected, totaling $12, and a $200 prize for coming in second place in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
“This is the second year we’ve held the territory-wide contest,” said WMA spokesperson Stella Saunders. “Last year, we had 16 schools competing and we collected more than 32,500 cans. This year, we had 20 schools competing and we collected more than 41,500 cans.”
Parental, Community Support
The Gifft Hill School’s can collection efforts were coordinated by middle school student council advisor Michelle Mc-Arthur.
The kids were initially worried about collecting enough cans, as the sale of soda is not allowed at the school, but the parents and the community stepped up to support the students’ efforts, explained McArthur.
“We have a lot of parents who work at Skinny Legs and some of the island’s resorts, and they brought in bags and bags of cans,” said McArthur, who was impressed with WMA’s effort to reach out to the school and encourage them to enter the contest. “We saw the contest in the newspaper, and the Waste Management Authority has really been reaching out to us.”
Several GHS students and two parents traveled to St. Thomas on Saturday, January 27, for an awards ceremony.
“The kids went to St. Thomas for a luncheon, where they got their trophy, a check and a certificate,” said McArthur. “They came back really inspired. The ceremony was very well put together.”
The middle school students must now decide how to spend the $212 they earned from the aluminum can collection contest.
“They are now deciding what they want to use the money for at the middle school,” said McArthur. “We are planning a
Valentine’s Day dance with some of the money. The rest will go to whatever they decide they need.”
In addition to raising money for the students, the contest also taught the kids about the importance of recycling, explained McArthur.
“They didn’t realize that trash could become money,” she said. “It was neat to see the kids get into it.”
In fact, the students are now trying to set up a permanent can collection site at the school, according to McArthur.
“We entered the contest to raise money, and we’re now working with the idea of setting up a permanent can recycling station at the school,” said McArthur. “At this point, we’d be the only place on island to drop off cans. I still get calls from people asking if they can bring us their cans, and I hate to tell them no.”