An industrious group of Lake Norman-area eighth-graders intends to help us save the environment one drink container at a time.
Students at the Community School of Davidson are working to get recycling bins placed on Main Street.
They're raising money for the containers by having merchants put a nickel in a jar each time a customer carries out sold items without a bag.
The "Nickels for Nature" concept was the brainchild of Megan Blackwell, owner of The Village Store on Main Street. She originally dropped a nickel into a jar each time a customer went without a bag or brought one in, and she donated the proceeds to the Davidson Lands Conservancy.
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The students have taken on the raise-money-for-recycling project with gusto.
Eleven merchants are now participating - 10 in Davidson and one in Huntersville - and the students have collected at least $110.
"It's one more step to make the world greener," Brennan Kayes, 13, of Huntersville told me when I met with the students and Blackwell outside her store recently.
I learned of the effort after Brennan wrote a letter to our editor.
"The nickels show the Davidson town board that the merchants of Davidson are committed to making Davidson greener," Brennan wrote. "Not only are the merchants committed, the town people are excited about this idea, too.
"We have gotten a great deal of feedback from the store owners on how customers will empty their pockets into the jars because they love the idea so much."
The students hope to start Nickels for Nature in other towns as well but are focusing on Davidson for now, Brennan wrote.
Other students involved are Holden Bailey, 14, of Mooresville; Megan George, 14, of Huntersville; Savanna Good, 13, of Huntersville; Murphy McConnell, 13, of Huntersville; and Shelby Light, 14, of Cornelius.
They plan to pitch their idea for the bins to the Davidson Board of Commissioners soon, and they have a key ally in commissioner Connie Wessner.
She's the service learning-practicum coordinator at Community School of Davidson.
The students are conducting Nickels for Nature as a practicum started by a previous group of students last year.
The students head to downtown Davidson each Friday to visit with merchants and see how the jar collection is going.
Holden said Nickels for Nature teaches everyone "to respect the community and respect the environment."
The students know they have their work cut out, as the bins cost about $600, they said.
"They're very, very, very expensive," Brennan said.
They plan to present various payment options to the Board of Commissioners, including letting businesses have their names on a bin if they help pay for it.
I'm confident the kids will see it through. They've already gotten a community behind the cause, after all.
"It's not hard to make a difference if you have your minds set," Shelby said.
I turned to Blackwell and said how these students are our future leaders.
" Current leaders," she said.