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Student's recycling proceeds provide holiday joy for others
recycling pic
Turlock Junior High student Steven Shamgochian wraps up the presents he bought for fellow classmates using money raised by his year-round recycling efforts. - photo by Photo Contributed

Recycling is a great way to earn some extra cash on the side, but when the proceeds go towards others in the community the benefits of giving outweigh the dollars earned. Steven Shamgochian of Turlock Junior High School experienced this first hand as he has spent the past year recycling, ultimately raising over $2,000 and using the proceeds to purchase items to donate to fellow schoolmates.

The fundraiser was set in motion on Jan. 1 and was precipitated by Steven’s habit of crushing cans to keep busy in his free time. As an autistic student, crushing cans gave Steven structure and eventually tuned into a lucrative hobby that helped him refine his math skills by calculating pounds recycled and dollars earned.  As the dollars started rolling in, Steven and his parents realized that others could benefit from his newfound pastime.

“We sent out a letter to our friends in January to tell them about Steven’s activity. Some of them own businesses which they got involved and have been very generous with their donations,” said Steven’s mother, Amy Shamgochian.

On top of Steven’s own efforts he received consistent donations from neighbors, one of which even provided a trailer to take the large amount of recycling to the center, which Steven did every other Saturday with his dad. His recycling consisted of mainly glass bottles, cans and plastics that totaled $2,580 for this year with donations still rolling in that Steven and his parents decided to start saving for next year.

On Monday evening the Shamgochian family made a trip to Target to utilize the funds raised in order to purchase toys and clothing for fellow students at TJHS and their siblings. With a system that included guys purchasing sports equipment and scooters while girls sought out CDs, makeup and nail polish, the family affair was fun and charitable. 

“We all split up in Target and at the end we met up at the cash registers and it was so fun to see what everyone had bought,” said Amy. “We wanted to spend every penny.”

The Shamgocians hosted a wrapping party at their home where friends and family gathered to wrap the presents which will be given to families as Christmas presents this holiday season.

“We just wanted to make Christmas more fun for all the children. It feels good to know they will receive these gifts; it’s exciting,” said Amy.