Creation needs a new station
By MICHELE MILLER, Times Staff Writer
ELFERS -- "One's man trash is another man's treasure" is an adage that Mary Miller lives by.
As recycling coordinator for the Pasco County school district, she spends a good part of her time visiting local businesses to collect the leftovers and out-of-stock items that could be used for arts and crafts projects for local youths.
Items such as fabric and wallpaper remnants, utility gloves, eyeglass lenses, floor tiles and toilet paper rolls all have a place in the classroom, said Miller, as long as those who use them have a creative eye.
The recycling program is the brainchild of former assistant superintendent Mary Giella, who saw the need after fielding phone calls from businesses that wanted to donate to schools.
It has turned into a win-win situation, Miller said.
For one day every other month, Miller opens Creation Station, a warehouse of sorts, to teachers and nonprofit organizations that sponsor youth programs.
Everything's free for the taking -- and there are plenty of takers.
Miller typically arrives at 6:45 a.m. for the 7 a.m. opening.
"Every time, there's about 30 cars lined up waiting to get in," said Miller. The next visiting day will be sometime in early November, she said.
"Teachers are real scroungers," she said. "They can make something out of nothing."
As proof, Miller points to what she calls Creation Corner. There, on a shelf, Miller has displayed a variety of projects made by others to share with those looking for new and clever ideas.
Those utility gloves make great finger puppets. Floor tiles, with a little paint, become trivets. Eyeglass lenses are used for a decoupage project. As for those toilet paper rolls, well, with a little trimming and some aluminum foil, they can be turned into neat little Christmas tree decorations or napkin rings.
Creation Station is a boon for schools and various youth programs, such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and programs at the Parks and Recreation Department. But it also provides a service for local businesses, Miller said.
"They don't have to pay for disposal if we take it off their hands," she said.
"I hear it over and over again when I go out to collect this stuff," Miller said, standing amid boxes and bins stuffed with donations. "People tell me, "I am so glad this is going to be used. I hate to throw it out.' "
Still, there is a glitch.
Soon, Creation Station is going to have to move out of its location on Grey Street, behind the Elfers Senior Center.
Half of the old storage building was condemned and torn down three years ago, Miller said. The Pasco Utilities Department donated a trailer to help house donations, but now the other half of the tin-roofed building is looking sorry.
"The school district doesn't want to put any more money into it," said Miller, who is searching for a new, more central location that would make Creation Station more accessible to central and east Pasco schools.
"We're hoping some business can donate a storage building or storefront, maybe in the Land O'Lakes area," she said, "We're suffering from our success, and now we're going to have to find a new building. But this is a great project. I love it."
How to help:
Those wanting to help with donations or a new site for Creation Station may call Mary Miller at: central Pasco, (813) 794-2752; east, (352) 524-2752; west, (727) 774-2752.
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