Recycling pays off at St. Catherine

KAPA‘A — The private show for the students of the St. Catherine School was kept a secret for weeks.

“We just didn’t talk about it,” said the school’s principal Carol West. “But I think we had a few people mark their calendars discreetly.”

As the students filed into the cafeteria, all they knew was that they were the Kaua‘i winners for the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation’s “Cash For Cans Challenge” and that they would be receiving some kind of reward.

Altogether, they collected over 1,662 pounds of plastic, aluminum and glass, totaling over 18,215 containers.

St. Catherine parishioner Doug Nielson volunteered his time to pack nearly a ton of recyclables and take them from the school to the recycling center for the students. Nielson has no ties to the school, but volunteered “just to help.”

“I think Catholic Schools are important for a better education,” Nielson said. “It was a lot of work, but everyone was very cooperative.”

For their reward, the school received a $1,000 check from Reynold’s Recycling and a private show by O‘ahu’s Grammy-nominated musician Jack Johnson.

Just as everyone found a seat, Johnson, dressed in his Kokua Hawa‘i Foundation shirt and a pair of shorts, came walking in.

“I was really surprised at the number of containers the schools were able to bring in,” Johnson said. “This school brought in 18,000 containers.”

Johnson opened the show with “The 3 R’s” from the “Curious George” soundtrack, a song encouraging everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Johnson paused in the middle of his set to hold a question and answer session with the students. He shared with them how and why he got into singing, what his favorite instrument was and also answered a question about his friend, pro surfer Kelly Slater.

An impromptu drumming session livened up the crowd. For the encore, he played his song “Bubbly Toes” as he segued into Bob Marley’s “Stir it Up.”

After the show, the students rushed to be first in line for autographs.

Johnson signed everything from their uniform shirts, their tennis shoes, binders and a bookbag.

Sixth-grader Prisma Verzosa was one of the students who got her shirt signed instead of a piece of paper.

“It lasts longer,” she said.

Representatives from the second-place school Koloa Elementary were also given the opportunity to come to the show.

They received a $500 check from Reynold’s Recycling.

Johnson said he started the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation over a year ago and hopes to expand it by doing more challenges like the “Cans For Cash.” The foundation’s mission is to provide students with encounters that will enhance their appreciation for, and understanding of, their environment.

Last month, Johnson serenaded the students of Pukalani Elementary on Maui for their winning participation in the “Cans For Cash Challenge.”

He will visit two m ore schools on O‘ahu within the month.

• Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or


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