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Volunteer connects school needs with Swap Shop bounty

A Cape Elizabeth parent is working to meet a community need with a community resource.

The School Board on May 8, 2018 heard from Pond Cove School principal Jason Manjourides about the efforts of parent Beth Cary, a volunteer at the Recycling Center Swap Shop, to match items brought to the swap with needs expressed by teachers at Pond Cove.

"Every time you go in to the mail room there are new items and teachers are coming in and shopping," said Manjourides. "It's constant, and it's very great stuff."

Cary described herself as a work-at-home-turned-stay-at-home mom after a 21-year career. To pass the time when the kids were in school, she started volunteering at the Recycling Center Swap Shop, which she described as a "treat" to go to when you've got some extra time.

"I recognized that all the things that come in to the swap shop all the time are things that the school can use," Cary said.

She started matching wants published in the school newsletter with the books, toys and games that were constantly coming through the swap. "We have an incredibly generous community that is interested in recycling," Cary said. "Rather than letting it get overwhelmed there, I started bringing things in to the school - and taking requests from the teachers as well," she said.

Cary is in the school a couple of times a week, more or less, depending on what gets left at the swap. "Legos have been really popular requests for most of our classrooms for a rainy days," she said, and she's now matching needs at the Middle School too. "Fitting their needs is a little more challenging because there's such a wide range of readership in the Middle School, and they're much more serious so, not as much room for games and toys and what-not," Cary said.

Cary said being a go-between has been incredibly satisfying. "Knowing that it's coming from one Cape kid and going right back several other Cape kids sort of closes the circle of what recycling can and should be," she said. "I've been enjoying doing it and I hope to do it for quite a bit more."

Manjourides said the school is blessed to have a corps of dedicated parent volunteers, but of Cary he said, "she really makes a unique contribution that impacts many teachers and many students."