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Selma Recycles continues effort to clean up city

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Selma Recycles, an initiative started by 11-year old Caleb Smith and his family, is generating more and more buzz as they keep up their work, and is now catching the eye of a local organizations.

Smith and his mother, Crystal, hosted two recycling events in January that collected over 340 pounds of recyclable plastic. They also took the initiative to educate the people of Selma to make them aware of how bad the littering problem is here without the presence of a reliable recycling service.

Now, people in Selma are starting to open their eyes to the problem, and are doing their part to benefit Caleb’s initiative. Caleb remarks that he never imagined people supporting him or his project the way they have and is pleased to see people taking notice of the issue.

“I never thought that people would get behind me. People are really getting on board with what we are doing,” Caleb said. “I am a good leader and will continue to help Selma with this problem by showing them it isn’t a good thing for Selma or anywhere else in the world to not recycle.”

After two more plastic donation days that both saw unprecedented success during February along with city-wide recognition, ArtsRevive reached out to Caleb to express their interest in getting him teamed up with their own environmental initiative.

Starting the second Friday in March and going through the first week in April, ArtsRevive will be the host of the Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibition, a national exhibit that travels to show people the positives and negatives that humans can have on waterways all over the world. These effects include the littering of items such as plastic water bottles.

Understanding that the Smiths specialize in the recycling of plastic, ArtsRevive reached out to Caleb and Crystal for something they felt was mutually-beneficial. Selma Recycles will host its first April plastic drop-off event at the ArtsRevive Carneal building during the last day of the Smithsonian exhibit on Sunday, April 8 from 1-4 p.m.

“It is so neat that he started this project when the city did not keep their recycling going. Maybe this event will help him get more plastic or some additional publicity. I felt that this was a great pairing,” said Martha Lockett, former executive director of ArtsRevive, who is responsible for bringing the Smithsonian exhibit to town.

The exhibit will be open to the public from March 9 to April 8. Lockett said the presence of Selma Recycles for the last day of their exhibit was the perfect way to end the program: with some inspiration from a kid putting forth his best effort.

Furthermore, ArtsRevive is not the only example proving the program is working and growing. According to Crystal, both February drop-off dates on the 11th and 25th endured rainy days, but production did not slow down. Both Smiths say they actually collected more plastic during those two days than the previous month’s collection of over 300 pounds, with their two drop-off bins being filled to the brim as well as the two recycling bins at the School of Discovery at full-capacity.

Crystal says this is a result of a community that has a need for an effective recycling service and a desire to help out one of their own residents. This includes being honored with a “citizen of the year” award given to her son at a breakfast earlier in 2018 and other avenues that have used to increase publicity.

“People stay committed, and at this point they are ready to get the material out of their homes,” Crystal said. “We appreciate everything. The awards, publicity and support Caleb receives has definitely gotten people on board with his cause.”

As Selma Recycles continues to transition from a small project made possible from a Disney grant into a city-wide initiative, the Smiths continue to receive help from different unforeseen routes. This includes church donations, personal donations to Crystal and the simple benefit of having a roof over their head during the drop-off events just in case of undesirable weather, which ArtsRevive provides with the use of its building.

The Smithsonian exhibit will be open to the public throughout March after their original invite-only opening on March 8.

For more information regarding Selma Recycles or their impending drop-off dates, visit their Facebook page at “Selma Recycles.”