Grocery bags collected for park bench


Zakary Hicks

This meter hangs in the B building to show the number of bags donated. Mathias said the bench will be created once 10,000 bags are collected.

Life skills support teacher Adam Mathias and his students are collecting grocery bags. Once they reach their goal of 10,000 bags, they are going to donate them to Martin’s Grocery Store. Martin’s will then give the school a park bench made of recycled bags to place in the courtyard in the new building.  

Martin’s has a system where they collect grocery bags from customers or groups.  

“I had seen it on the Martins grocery store website and decided to do it with the students.  It is their promotion that whenever they get 10,000 bags in the store that they donate a bench to an organization or someone that requested a bench,”  Mathias said.  

All recycled bags are being donated to B317. 

“It is through a recycling process, and they take the bags and they clean them. They sort them, and then they melt them down and make them into lumber looking boards. They make a bench out of that,”  Mathias said.  

Mathias and his students are keeping track of all of the bags.  

“My students are counting the bags. Every time we get a donation of bags we count them, and we keep track of it, tallying them.  If other students want to get involved, they can bring in bags; all grocery bags are being accepted. We’d be happy to take them,”  Mathias said.  

Students think the new park bench idea is good.   

“I believe that the idea of creating a bench from plastic bags is a really smart idea, and I can’t wait to have it in our new school,” sophomore Megan Pensyl said.  

For many students, this is a learning opportunity.  

“We work on work skills a lot in my room. We work on sorting, and we work on task completion skills. The purpose of it for our guys mainly was to work on our counting and work on those different things as well as give something back. We are recycling, we are teaching about recycling and we are watching videos on how the bags are turned into benches. It also just makes a bench for people to sit on so it will be a place where all Altoona students and faculty can enjoy in the new courtyard,” Mathias said.  

This bench will be a contribution to the community as well as a part of the class.  

“With my students, we work a lot on work skills. It’s just another thing of this is the job that we have to complete, so let’s get it done. My guys are hard-workers; they always jump on it and they say ‘Okay let’s do it.’ So if we are instilling that work ethic in the students then our hope is that whenever they graduate they will be more likely to get a job after they graduate or be able to complete some independent skills at home and different things like that, make them as independent as possible and just be a part of the community,”  Mathias said.

The new building isn’t receiving an ordinary bench.  

“This is an innovative way to make something useful and it gives character to the new school,” sophomore Jaden Kubica said. 

As of Nov. 15, 5.200 bags have been collected.