Belfast Rotary Club holds electronic recycling collection

Posted Nov. 21, 2009, at 4:01 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Enough electronic junk to fill three tractor trailers was collected for recycling by the Belfast Rotary Club over the past two weeks.

For two successive Saturdays, club members and volunteers helped unload and stack enough old televisions and other devices to fill the former Mathews Brothers warehouse.

The stuff came from all over Waldo County and will be shipped to E-Waste Solutions in Auburn where items will be broken down into their component parts for either recycling or disposal, including hazardous materials.

There was no charge for the service but people dropping off the goods left more than $2,000 in donations for Belfast Rotary Club programs.

People arrived in pickup trucks, vans and cars. One man even showed up on a bicycle towing a small trailer loaded with an old television.

Within no time, the warehouse was filled with televisions, CPUs, monitors, copiers, printers, ink cartridges, fax machines, scanners, laptops, stereos, keyboards, DVD players, cell phones, remote controls, VCRs, projectors, digital cameras, tape players, PDAs, speakers, telephones, two-way radios, answering machines, camcor-ders, CD players, electric typewriters, game systems, pagers, microwaves, toner cartridges and other items.

Among those on hand to unload and stack the appliances were eight foreign exchange students from across the state. The students were sponsored by Maine Rotary clubs and hailed from Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Croatia, Ukraine, Ecuador and France.

One of them was Lena Sernyak, 15, a Belfast Area High School junior who is staying with a host family in Northport. Sernyak, a pole vaulter on the Ukraine National Team, found it difficult to believe that people had so many items to recycle, much of which was in working order.

“It’s strange, but it’s fun. I’ve never seen so much,” Sernyak said as she unloaded televisions from the back of a truck. “It’s good to volunteer. I like it a lot.”

Incoming Rotary President Doug Smith said he got the idea last summer when he noticed an advertisement in the Bangor Daily News about a similar project conducted by the Ellsworth Rotary Club.

“I contacted my counterpart there and here we are,” Smith said Saturday. “It’s a great service project and a win-win situation. People are glad to get rid of this stuff and give us a donation to take it off their hands. I didn’t expect to see this much stuff. It’s quite a pile.”

Smith said special thanks were due to club member Scott Hawthorne, of Mathews Brothers, who donated the use of the warehouse. He also commended the many club members and exchange students who volunteered for the project.

Sue Wood, who heads up the club’s foreign exchange program, said Rotary sponsored 17 exchange students in Maine this year and 9,000 all around the world. She said the club invited the students to take part as a way to bring them together. She said the families of two Maine students who went overseas on the exchange pro-gram last year were serving as hosts this year.

“We host only two kids in Belfast but this weekend was an opportunity to get these kids together and also do a community service project and learn what Rotary is about as our motto is ‘Service Above Self,’” she said. “The truth of the matter is they would do anything we asked them to do to have a chance to be together.”

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