By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Some of the items collected by WE CAN at a 2019 event.
Photo/courtesy Melisa Hollenback

Region – Melisa Hollenback, Shrewsbury resident and president of WE CAN (aka the Shrewsbury Farmers Market) is helping to coordinate a regional drive-through re-use event that will take place Sat. Jan. 11, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine,  201 Westboro Road, North Grafton.

Hollenback noted that this event will be hosted by We Can and the towns of Shrewsbury, Grafton, Westborough and Northborough. While these communities are co-hosting this event, residents from neighboring towns may participate.

She further explained that each of these communities will receive points from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s SMRP Recycling Dividends Program (RDP) that provides payments to qualifying municipalities that have implemented specific waste reduction, reuse, and recycling programs. The funds then can be used to offset solid waste and recycling expenses.

“We started this actually a year ago so this is our one year anniversary holding this event,” Hollenback said. “Jason Molina (another environmentally concerned Shrewsbury resident) and I actually started doing these years ago; combining the Styrofoam with textile events because what we wanted to do was add in hard to recycle items with the Styrofoam and textiles which was on a state list of products that they wanted to get out of the waste stream.”

“The events did really well but the problem is the world market. This is what people don’t understand. Our recycled items have to go somewhere – either to be processed or to be used and if the markets or the governments change it affects the whole thing,” she added.

Of note is that of the 75 or so communities in Central Massachusetts, she said, Northborough and Shrewsbury were the only two that did not have an easy drop-off point for hard to recycle items such as electronics, mattresses, textiles and Styrofoam.

The Jan. 11 event provides a service and fulfills a need for these communities. This year, button cell batteries, fluorescent bulbs, inkjet cartridges and mattresses have been added.

Many of the textiles, furniture, small household appliances and office supplies that can be re-used will go to various organizations such as Project New Hope, MA, Epilepsy Foundation, Fresh Start Furniture Exchange, The Great Exchange and local animal shelters.

“Last year we had four events. We had 1,344 cars come through and we collected over 12,000 pounds (6 tons) of used clothing and textiles that have benefited the Epilepsy Foundation, the Tufts Foster Small Animal Hospital, and a few local animal shelters,” Hollenback said.

“This year, you can also donate those holiday gifts that you’d like to re-gift which will go to Project New Hope,” she added.

Volunteers are welcomed and needed. College kids who are home on break and who would like to donate a few hours are encouraged to volunteer. Visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f094caeaa2da20-november to register.

While many items are free to drop off, fees (cash only) for electronics and mattresses will be collected. For more information and a full list of acceptable items, instructions and associated fees, visit. http://wecan-ma.org/re-claim-it-event.