Two poverty-stricken families in Nicaragua are having a happier New Year, thanks to the recycling efforts of many San Lorenzo Valley residents.
Starting in late spring of 2007 and going through summer, residents saved and collected more than a ton of recyclables — mostly bottles and aluminum cans that could be redeemed for a few cents each — and brought them to a storage van on the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ben Lomond.
The object was to accumulate enough cash-redeemable “trash” to raise the $2,600 needed to build one small prefabricated home for a destitute and homeless Nicaraguan family.
The project was spearheaded by parishioners of St. Andrew’s, but the effort was not limited to that parish. People from all over the valley participated in the “bring your trash to church” project.
Kids from SLV’s Little People’s Theatre, in rehearsal for their annual summer production at Park Hall, filled about a dozen large bags with empty plastic water bottles to donate to the cause.
Youngsters from the Nature Academy at SLV Middle School gave up several Sundays to help sort through the hundreds of recyclable items stashed in the van.
By the end of summer, the goal was reached, and $2,600 was forwarded to Food for the Poor Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization whose aim is to aid the poverty-stricken of the world.
Another international organization based in Nicaragua matched the funds that SLV sent, enabling Food for the Poor to build two houses.
Those houses now have been built using local volunteer labor, and two previously homeless families now have homes. Michael Anton, project director of Food for the Poor, sent a letter to St. Andrew’s to thank the people of San Lorenzo Valley for their generosity.
“I wonder if you realize just how far-reaching an impact your action has had,” he wrote. “Tonight, there will be two (fewer) families sleeping in a garbage dump or in a slum or in an unsafe shack. Your kindness has allowed these families to experience something they haven’t felt in a long time — hope!”
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