By Jennifer Ortiz
HOWELL — The Taunton Elementary School is in a race to win a $50,000 recycled playground through the 2016 Colgate and ShopRite Recycled Playground Challenge.
PTA Second Vice President Susan Emitt said the organization’s board members had been talking about collecting money for a new playground when she came up with the idea to participate in the Colgate/ShopRite Challenge.
“Howell did a reconfiguration (of its schools for 2015-16) and now Taunton is a K-2 school. We have nine sections of second grade, nine sections of first grade and five kindergarten classes. That is 180 kids just in the second grade going out on the playground at the same time,” Emitt said.
Emitt said the current playground is small and cannot be expanded because of a bus loop in front of the school which is close to the playground.
PTA President Kim Cutrona said the school needs a new playground.
“We had been talking about different ideas and … in the ShopRite flier, Colgate, ShopRite and TerraCycle had gotten together to promote this (Colgate Oral Care recycling) program. So I texted the picture to everybody on the team and I asked them what they thought about it and they said ‘go for it,’ ” Emitt said.
Taunton School has been registered in the contest since March 15 and is in fifth place with 884 playground credits. Playground credits are earned by voting and/or recycling oral care product packaging and products through the Colgate Oral Care recycling program. Each vote and each piece of oral care waste counts as one playground credit. Members of the public can vote once a day at www.terracycle.com/colgateshopriteplayground2016
“We have a box in the school. We are collecting used toothbrushes, toothbrush holders, empty toothpaste tubes … They can be any brand,” Emitt said.
Cutrona said that due to safety reasons, members of the public may not drop off recyclable items at the school; the box is only for Taunton students.
However, the PTA is looking for business owners in town who would be willing to place a recycling box in their location. For more information, contact Cutrona at firstname.lastname@example.org or Emitt at email@example.com
“We are trying to get as many votes and materials in as possible. Taunton School has until June 12 to win,” Emitt said.
The winning school will receive a playground made from recycled oral care products.
“Get the word out. Go online, register your email and vote once a day. It would really help us as a school to be able to win the playground. The kids would really enjoy it,” Cutrona said.
Emitt said that in addition to trying to win a new playground, the contest is teaching young children about recycling and about having a cleaner planet.
Cutrona said the school is also recycling shoes. Shoes that are brought in are shipped to a company and sent around the world to children who do not have shoes.
“We are sending out good messages for kids to recycle and reach out to those in need,” she said.