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Q&A with River Edge Green Team Committee’s Bonnie Stewart

Based in New Jersey, the River Edge Green Team regularly does a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people. Focused on environmental actions that will lead to a cleaner community, the Green Team was state-certified as part of the Sustainable Jersey program in 2013. Naturally, the Green Team is a great fit for Second Chance Toys, having recently collaborated with us on a toy drive.

Bonnie Stewart from the River Edge Green Team Committee took the time to answer some questions about her group of volunteers, how she came to be involved with SCT, and what lies ahead for the Green Team.

How would you describe the River Edge Green Team to someone who isn't familiar?

The River Edge Green Team’s Bonnie Stewart: The RE Green Team is a group of volunteers that work on projects to promote greener living and habits. We strive to make other aware of things they can do to make our environment a better and healthier place to live. We try to encourage the younger people to be aware of how small changes can have a big impact.

The Green Team became certified as part of Sustainable Jersey a few years back. What did that process entail?

Bonnie: Becoming certified is a lot of work. Our Green Team needed to pick projects to work on to give us points towards certification. Once you have enough points you get certified, you need to document everything and upload pictures and paperwork to prove the projects were done. Second Chance Toys is one example of that. It also involves the Mayor and council and other organizations in town such as the Shade Tree Commission and Environmental Commission. Many volunteers such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts help a lot.

How long have you been involved with the Green Team?

Bonnie: I have been with the Green Team since it started in 2009.

What made you decide to volunteer with SCT?

Bonnie: Well, one of our members saw Jennifer [Cournoyer, Operations Manager] on TV and we all voted that it would be a great idea. I think we all had plastic toys around our homes that we didn’t know what to do with and didn’t want to throw them away. You all made it so easy that we really want to do it again next year. We got great feedback from the community. They couldn’t bring all their toys, so they wanted to make sure that if we did another one, they would hold the toys until next one.

What is the best thing about volunteering with SCT?

Bonnie: Well, of course it was seeing the kids get the toys and knowing we were making them happy. Also, knowing the toys didn’t go into the oceans and landfills. Our team collected nearly 1,000 toys.

What tips would you give other volunteer groups to help their collections go so well?

Bonnie: I would say to advertise and get the word out. Some of our members are on the Board of Ed and they were able to do e-mail blasts several times. We also had two young volunteer teenagers and they were in charge of making the flyers to hang up in town. Social media is a huge way to get the word out to your friends and family as well.

Do you have any collaborative events with Second Chance Toys coming up?

Bonnie: We hope to do a toy drive again in April 2016.

Who specifically do donations to River Edge Green Team for Second Chance Toys go to and help?

Bonnie: A day care center and families in Paterson, NJ.

Aside from your work with SCT, what is the best way that someone can help your local community?

Bonnie: Any time residents get involved in community is a good thing. The next projects we are working on are towards certification for sustainable schools. Community gardens at schools, helping children and parents be aware of simple actions that can be taken can have a big impact on the future. Organizing projects in schools and in town in ways that get the word out about being more sustainable. Whether it’s more recycling or new projects in town, just making people aware is very important. We always try to be present at town events such as our farmer’s market each week or River Edge day in October.


Author: Darren Paltrowitz, Music & Media Licensing at Viacom