Students collect thousands of caps to turn into bench

- At Southeast High School in Manatee County there is a bench that looks like any other bench, but this one stands out for a reason.

"School-wide it just brings everybody together," said cafeteria manager Susan Cutchinella.

Believe it or not, it is made from the plastic lids and caps of water bottles, deodorant and even peanut butter jars. "It gets to the point where it is like oh all of these caps and lids," said Cutchinella.

It started out three years ago as a teacher's project for students with disabilities, but it grew to include the entire school. Students collected thousands of plastic lids.

"It worked for socialization for the kids. It exposed them to the regular students and teachers," said E.S.E teacher Jane Toole.

The collection grew until they had 1,200 pounds worth. "It was a lot of black garbage bags and big boxes full of bottle caps," said Toole.

From there those lids and caps were taken to the Recycled Plastic Factory in Englewood. They were ground up, melted down and transformed into the bench.

Students now relax, do their homework or catch up with friends in the hallway. "It was kind of a win win situation and they felt important. It was their job skill," said Toole.

Now they are at it again.

"This is a creamer cap, a deodorant cap and a bottle lid," pointed out Cutchinella. Seeing their hard work pay off has motivated them to set another goal. They want to create another bench, in a shorter amount of time.

"We hope that local businesses or any businesses would save their lids for us," said Cutchinella.

It has been a lesson not just in conservation, but in team building and the value of hard work as well.

"It is good for the environment, it also brings all the students together, teachers everybody that works here and it's just a nice thing to know everyone is working towards a goal," said Toole.

The only lids not accepted are lids with metal and lids from sour cream type containers.
 

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