Trash stash

Through 15 years of recycling, a Georgia club helps kids and Mother Earth.

By Wendy Rose Gould

Imagine this: 813,000 pounds of plastic, metal, glass and furniture. That’s how much the Marietta Golden K Kiwanis Club in Georgia estimates it’s recycled since Larry McDonald, who passed away recently, founded the club’s recycling program in 2005. It’s hard to envision a pile that large. But for McDonald — and now for Randy Pettit, (shown in photo) who took over the program — it looks like daily calls for pick-up, truck beds forever full and turning junk into no small amount of cash. 

“While Larry was living, our phone rang almost every day from someone in Cobb County,” says his wife, Mary Charles McDonald. “They picked up washers, dryers, refrigerators, grills, chain-link fences (he even removed these several times), pots and pans, stainless flatware, furniture and lawn chairs. Larry would say, ‘If it clanked, he would take it.’”

Community members also bring items to the club. Everything is taken to appropriate facilities, including scrap-metal yards and recycling centers. Items that still have life in them are donated locally. In that sense, the recycling program helps in multifaceted ways — repurposing items, minimizing the community’s overall trash output and raising important funds. 

The club isn’t exactly sure how much money the recycling program has raised since its inception — members pool all fundraising results into one lump sum — but Mary Charles McDonald estimates it’s around US$75,000. 

“The funds from the recycling have been applied to the ongoing administrative operations of the club, as well as to the many charitable activities that the club sponsors,” says William Clark, treasurer. “The charitable ones are centered around nonprofits and other endeavors that support our mission of bettering the lives of children in our local communities, in our state, in the United States and globally.”

This story originally appeared in the October/November 2020 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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