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Albany Academy children collect cans to plant a tree

What do you do with $300 worth of used cans and bottles? If you're a kindergartener at The Albany Academies, you use them to buy a tree.

As part of an annual program set up by kindergarten teacher Kristy Mahar, students at The Albany Academies were able to plant a magnolia tree on the front lawn of the school's grounds in celebration of Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, after collecting, as a class, an assortment of aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles to be recycled.

According to 6-year-old Christian Abdo, I'm not sure how many cans we got but I know we got a lot of cans.

Abdo said that his favorite part of the experience was when the class told everybody how much money they had earned for the tree.

Mahar said she began the Earth Day program to teach her class about the importance of recycling in a worldly way three years ago, by encouraging the students to go out and collect cans, with their parents, throughout their neighborhoods. The children would then come back to Mahar with the cans and have her drop them off to be recycled for a cash rebate.

"This year, we've been collecting cans and bottles since September," she said, "We ended the collection on April 16."

Mahar said the total earned by can collections was $306.05 this year, and, in fact, the amount of money has been rising each year Mahar continues the collection program. The first year Mahar began the program, her kindergarten class earned $150. The following year, the class earned $260.

Christian's mom, Susan Abdo, said she was amazed at what she learned by helping her son collect the cans, which she said were able to be deposited for a nickel a piece.

"It was a learning experience for me to read the labels," she said. Like her son, Susan was unsure of exactly how many cans the Abdos collected for the tree, however, she did say, "We collected every can we could scarf up."

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