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Recycling the Calendar : Businessman Wants to Bring Back an Educational Fund-Raiser


GLENDALE — Getting sponsors to fund anything during hard fiscal times can be difficult, but Glendale businessman Mark Ringelberg wants to see a recycling calendar featuring artwork by area schoolchildren published and marketed, even if he has to foot the entire $32,000 bill.

The prolonged recession has made many local businesses cut back on their usual contributions to civic and charity groups. But Ringelberg, owner of Westside Recycling, said he cannot abandon the calendar project, which is in its second year, because its message is too important to the children, as well as to the environment.

Last year, Ringelberg and Recycling Awareness and Development, a nonprofit educational corporation, spearheaded the publishing of 26,000 calendars featuring recycling messages in artwork by students from the Glendale, Burbank and La Canada Unified School Districts.

Last year's calendars, sold mostly by local schools for fund raising, were created with contributions from 10 local businesses. But this year, yielding to the unrelenting economic ebb, Ringelberg has scaled back the project and limited his efforts to just the Glendale Unified School District. He wants to keep the calendar alive and hopes to expand the project to Los Angeles and San Diego areas in the next few years.

The purpose of the calendar is twofold: It educates the public, especially children, about the importance of recycling to preserve the planet. It also allows businesses to help the public schools, Ringelberg said.

If all 26,000 calendars are sold this year at the suggested price of $5, the schools will net a profit of $130,000. But the schools will sell them at a lower price, or give them away, to students who cannot pay the price, Ringelberg said.

Because he is in the recycling business, the calendar is an easy project for Ringelberg to push.

"Our responsibility, as adults, is . . . to stop the destruction of the Earth," the 37-year-old father of five said. "The cure has to come from the children. They are the future and that's where you want to plant the seed."

The calendar was also an easy project to accept by the schools, because it provides many benefits, said Vic Pallos, public information officer for the Glendale Unified School District. The calendar's message fits in with the district's curriculum, the students gain self-esteem when they see their artwork published, and the schools also make some profit, he said.

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School used last year's profit of about $400 to help pay for new playground equipment, said Principal Paul Estep, adding that the school will use this year's profit toward the same goal. But more important, Estep said, the students are excited about the project.

Ranging from kindergartners to high school students, about 1,000 youths from 20 schools submitted their drawings this year, Pallos said. The district has 28,000 students in its 28 schools. Two retired art teachers and Pallos waded through the entries and selected 60. On Wednesday , a group of community and business leaders selected the 16 drawings that will be featured on the 1993-1994 academic year calendar encompassing 16 months.

"We looked for originality, creativity, a strong environmental message and how well they would reproduce on a calendar," Pallos said. Winners were chosen from a range of grade levels, he said.

Ashlyn Berg, 12, of Lincoln Elementary, was among the hopefuls who made the first cut of 60. The sixth-grader drew recyclable items--including newspapers, Christmas trees and aluminum cans--and two large containers to collect them. She started recycling about four years ago, she said.

"I probably will always (recycle), because it's a good thing to do," she said. "If I have kids, I want them to have a good world for them to live in. If you just throw (the used products) away, it just creates more waste. And when we keep putting them into the ground we're going to run out of space."

Now that the 16 winning entries are selected, Ringelberg said he will "work up enough nerve" to approach the local business community for donations.

If it all comes together, the calendars will be distributed in September, Ringelberg said.

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