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Auto recyclers donate $25,000 to Anchor Association summer camp

Call it a win-win-win situation.

Getting an old beater off the road can not only generate some income for the owner, but also benefit the environment and help out charities across Canada.

This year over $1-million was raised through the Retire Your Ride initiative, a partnership between the federal government and Summerhill Impact and supported in this province by the Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA).

“This is a record year. The awareness is finally picking up,” said Bob Vanleeuwen, owner of Fergus Auto Recyclers and a director with the OARA.

The Retire Your Ride Program is committed to improving air quality by responsibly recycling at least 50,000 vehicles per year, particularly 1995 models or older vehicles, which can produce 19 times more smog-forming pollutants than 2004 and newer models.

In addition to purchasing the vehicles and disposing of and recycling them using strict environmental guidelines, OARA members also donate $20, which is then dispersed to various non-profit organizations.

“It’s been very successful in benefitting local charities,” Vanleeuwen said.

On Dec. 23, on behalf of the OARA, he was on hand at “The Lighthouse” home just outside of Fergus to donate $25,000 to the Anchor Association, also known as The Canadian Reformed Association for the Handicapped.

The funds will help send 44 individuals with developmental disabilities, of all ages and from all across Ontario, to a two-week summer camp in Markdale.

“I’ve been there ever since it started,” Anchor resident Dave VanVeen said of the summer camp, which started in 1980. VanVeen enjoys the camaraderie of the camp and all the activities offered there.

“Almost anything,” he replied when asked what camp participants can do.

Fellow Anchor resident Terence Berends agreed. He said he really likes the camp experience, especially the singing and “sleeping in cabins.”

In accepting the OARA cheque from Vanleeuwen, Anchor’s executive director, Bert VanGoolen, said, “This is just great – thank you very much.”

In addition to the summer camp, Anchor offers respite care and operates four permanent homes in Burlington, Beamsville, Dunnville and Fergus – which support over 20 adults. The first home, in Beamsville, was opened in 1986, and the fourth, in Fergus, opened in May 2008.

The goal, VanGoolen said, is to provide 24-hour long-term care, as well as part-time jobs, to individuals with varying degrees of disability.

“They get out and become part of the community,” he said.

Vanleeuwen, whose business employs a couple of Anchor residents, had only positive things to say about the program.

He stressed the $25,000 donation to Anchor all started with individuals properly disposing of their vehicles at one of about 120 OARA certified locations.

Other auto wreckers may pay a bit more, but at the detriment of the environment, he said.

Since over half of all vehicles are not responsibly recycled – including safe disposal of gas, oil, fluids, batteries, refrigerants and mercury switches – the goal of OARA members is to raise awareness of proper procedures and to lobby the federal government to require all vehicle disposal businesses to be accredited by Environment Canada.

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by Chris Daponte