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Carmichael Times

Show of Hands for Sharon

Nov 10, 2023 03:41PM ● By Susan Maxwell Skinner

Kiwanis Club of Carmichael volunteers get stuck into a mountain of plastic bags for recycling. The chore was among projects undertaken during a service day dedicated to fellow club member Sharon Ruffner. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Wielding scissors, shovels and shears, 45 Carmichael Kiwanians last week slogged out a volunteer service morning in honor of club member, Sharon Ruffner.

Ruffner, a former club president and indefatigable community activist, is undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

Sharon Ruffner with husband BobUndergoing treatment for lung cancer, Sharon Ruffner (pictured with husband Bob) is a Carmichael community icon and inspiration for volunteerism. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner 

Carmichael Park was the location for club member efforts. Trees were trimmed; garbage was picked up; hygiene kits were assembled for homeless children and 125 pounds of plastic bags were sorted for recycling. The volunteers then paraded by Ruffner’s nearby home with banners, cards and good wishes.

“I was flabbergasted,” reported Ruffner. “They completely choked me up. It was a treat to see so many faces I’d missed for months, because of my illness. The most frustrating part of being sick is not being able to take part in projects. I’m so grateful for people who have stepped up and kept our work going.”

Recycling is especially dear to Ruffner’s big heart. In 2021, the former San Juan School District staffer and her club co-president Jackie Delu spearheaded a project that has since collected thousands of pounds of unwanted plastic. The harvest is traded to Trex, a manufacturer of recycled building materials.

For each 1000 pounds gathered in a 12-month period, the company donates a composite bench to a nonprofit. Kiwanis positioned their first bench in the Koobs Nature Area and have since processed a further ton of bags. They are now working to earn a fourth bench.

Their example inspired churches and food closet volunteers to support the cause. “So much plastic is in our landfills and floating on our oceans,” Ruffner notes. “It’s exciting to find meaningful use for single-use products that have been inflicted on our environment.”

Fellow Kiwanian Linda Rose Jones now leads the bag project and was part of last week’s well-wisher parade. “It was lovely for us to see Sharon in her yard,” said Jones. “She is a fantastic force in our community. We all felt good, surrounding her with so much love.”

Footnote: Any household can support the Kiwanians’ plastic drive. Wrappers must be clean, dry and of stretchable composition. Bubble wrap, cling wrap and plastic mailers are welcome. Paper labels should be removed. Unacceptable items include: frozen food and candy packaging; plastic gloves; beverage rings; bottles and rigid containers. For donating information, email [email protected]