“R” words are big ones in the vocabulary of ShareFest officials and volunteers.
The New Lenox-based organization is all about Recycling and Reuse. ShareFest volunteers will collect goods ranging from scrap metal (nuts, bolts, screws, pieces of old pipe) to textiles and home goods (clothing, linens, blankets) during their Eleven Days of Giving event from Sept. 1-11.
The big collection is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at Spencer Trail School, 1701 S. Spencer Road, New Lenox.
But Gary Cheney, who first launched ShareFest in September of 2007 and now serves as chairman of the organization, wants to make sure the message gets out across the Southland that ShareFest’s alphabet runs from A to Z.
He and others working within the organization keep one eye trained on the environment and the other on spreading goodwill to mankind.
“I look back on the things we’ve done through ShareFest, and, yes, we have made some great partnerships with Will County and the township and other venues to have an annual collection of hazardous material, electronics, wood, scrap metal—the whole nine yards,” Cheney said. “But it doesn’t stop there.
“We have gone out and partnered with schools and park districts and people, and we’ve planted trees, done some beautification projects. We go to senior citizens and people who need help. We’ll clean their yards, plant things or we’ll get rid of waste material.
“We’re trying to do this initiative with the gardening program to feed our food pantries. We partner with the Will County Forest District. We’ve sent scores and scores of volunteers out there. Last year, 50 volunteers went out and we did some restoration work at the Behrens Access.
“We also collected 12 bags of litter in a partnership with Mother Earth of Joliet. We cleaned up a bunch of litter off the bike path by the village—for about a mile stretch. So, looking at it from a bigger, global picture, there is all of that going on, not just collections.”
Reading is another word that starts with “R”and rates special mention in Cheney’s world. ShareFest partners with local girl scouts on a book drive and exchange.
“Last year, we had over 5,000 books that were collected,” he said. “Then, what we did with them, we allowed people to come in and pick out what they wanted. So, the books aren’t laying around on somebody’s shelf getting dusty or maybe thrown in the garbage. Let’s give it back to somebody who doesn’t have to spend money to promote literacy, reuse and recycling.
“The only thing we ask is for them is to pay it forward—and pay it forward in some way that is passionate in your heart.”