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Carmichael Times

Bench Honors Sharon Ruffner

Jun 11, 2024 10:34AM ● By Susan Maxwell Skinner, photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Bob Ruffner (seated) enjoys a park bench dedicated to his community leader wife, Sharon Ruffner. The composite seat was recently installed in Koobs Nature Area, Carmichael. Friends are Kiwanians Linda Rose Jones (left) and Jackie DeLu and singer Frank McClory.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Passionate about keeping plastics out of waterways and landfills, the late Sharon Ruffner spearheaded the re-purposing of more than a ton of plastic bags.

Since her January death, Ruffner’s project continues. A growing gang of volunteers, many of them Carmichael Kiwanis Club members, gather bags for recycling. 

Inspired by example, Sacramento churches and nonprofit organizations have contributed; several have begun their own plastic drives. The bounty is shipped to the Trex company in Virginia and turned into composite lumber. Every 1,000 plastic pounds is rewarded with a bench for nonprofit organizations.

Jackie DeLu shared Carmichael Kiwanis presidency with Ruffner when their project began in 2021.

“Sharon and I were inspired by a Stockton Lions Club that began a similar effort,” DeLu explained. “We didn’t realize how strongly people felt about recycling plastic. The community really stepped up.

“Sharon’s garage was soon completely full of bags. Her church, her yoga class, our neighbors: they all contributed plastic bags.”

The latest seat to reward club efforts found a special place. Koobs Nature Area (5325 Engle Road, Carmichael) is a reserve supported by the club; a place where Ruffner and her husband volunteered. Ruffner’s family and 30 chums joined a recent ceremony to dedicate the bench.

“Sharon would be so happy,” noted her husband, Bob Ruffner. “I doubt she realized how successful this project would be for the community.”

Any household can support the Kiwanis Club’s ongoing drive. Donations must be clean, dry and of stretchable composition. Bubble wrap, cling wrap and mailers are also welcome (paper labels must first be removed).  Unacceptable items include frozen food and candy packaging; pet food bags; plastic gloves; beverage rings; bottles and rigid containers.

Said Sharon Ruffner on launching the recycling drive: “Millions of pounds of plastics are in our landfills and floating on our oceans. It’s exciting to find meaningful use for so many products that have been inflicted on our environment.”

Since Ruffner’s death, collection management has fallen to fellow Kiwanian Linda Rose Jones. For information on contributing plastic to the Kiwanis club, e-mail [email protected].

Sharon Ruffner recycling

 Recycling initiator Sharon Ruffner said: “It’s exciting to find meaningful use for so many products that have been inflicted on our environment.”