Is Your Used Pizza Box Recyclable? Here’s How to Find Out

Used pizza boxes are technically recyclable, even if they’re stained with grease or cheese, according to a July report from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), but not all recycling facilities will accept them. Now Domino’s Pizza has launched a new website tool that will help customers figure out if their communities offer the option of pizza box recycling.

A Domino’s-commissioned study conducted by WestRock, a leading pizza box supplier and an AF&PA member, found that “the presence of grease and cheese at levels typically found on pizza boxes does not impact manufacturing in a negative way.”

“Corrugated pizza boxes are successfully recycled every day at paper mills throughout the country, yet consumers remain confused by mixed messages suggesting that some boxes should not be put in the recycle bin,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “So, let’s be clear: Pizza boxes are recyclable. Consumers should not be concerned about grease or cheese; simply remove any leftover pizza and place the box in the recycle bin.”

Many environmentally minded consumers still believe that used pizza boxes are not recyclable. And many recycling experts still say pizza boxes can’t be recycled if they’re soiled with grease or cheese. According to Stanford University’s Stanford Recycling Center, the paper in soiled pizza boxes “cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process. Food is a major source of contamination in paper recycling.”

Treehugger notes that the high rate of contamination in American recyclable materials is why China stopped accepting most recyclables from North America in January 2018.

But Domino’s and WestRock say their study demonstrates that pizza boxes with food stains are not a problem for recycling facilities. “We proved that the grease and cheese residuals, at the levels that are typically found in a pizza box, can make it through the recycling stream with no issue, and […] there’s no issues with the paper after we recycle the boxes,” Jeff Chalovich, WestRock’s chief commercial officer and president of corrugated packaging, explained to Fast Company in a July 22 article.

this photo shows a young woman eating pepperoni pizza from a recyclable pizza box that has a visible grease stain on the bottom.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok of Pexels

To help consumers move past the confusing and often conflicting claims about recycling pizza boxes, Domino’s created a look-up tool on It uses zip codes to tell you whether your community’s recycling centers accept used pizza boxes. However, many recycling centers don’t have a clear policy. Search results on some zip codes state, “Recycling guidelines in your area suggest that corrugated boxes are accepted. However, it is not explicitly stated … Recycling guidelines in your area should be updated to explicitly state their acceptance.”

Recycling programs for pizza boxes are available to an estimated 73 percent of the U.S. population, according to a Resource Recycling Systems access study commissioned by WestRock in the fall of 2019. But consumers have long been told that these boxes can’t be recycled, and many end up getting discarded as trash.

“We have heard a lot of excitement from customers about pizza boxes being recyclable. However, sometimes they were confused about their local regulations,” said Jenny Fouracre, director of public relations for Domino’s. “This new tool on our recycling site should help to clarify the local regulations. We are also really happy to see communities nationwide communicating more clearly to residents that they do want pizza boxes in their recycling bins instead of the garbage cans.”

California Governor Signs “World’s Toughest” Recycling Law Covering Plastic Bottles

The state of California struck a well-aimed blow against plastic pollution on Sept. 25 when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that will require plastic beverage containers to be manufactured with recycled material—in amounts that will significantly increase over the next 10 years.

Companies that produce beverages—ranging from bottled water to sodas and sports drinks—will be required to use 15 percent recycled plastic in their bottles by 2022. The amount of recycled plastic must increase to 25 percent by 2025 and to 50 percent by 2030.

Plastics News said the legislation may be “the world’s toughest” law covering recycled content in plastic bottles, noting that it exceeds the European Union’s standards. But the online publication said legislators, under pressure from special-interest groups like the American Beverage Association, watered down the bill with “what some described as potentially significant ‘off ramps’ for companies to seek waivers that could limit the law’s impact.”

Plastic News reported that early versions of the California law required 75 percent recycled content in plastic bottles, but complaints from the beverage and bottle-making industry convinced legislators to soften the bill.

The American Beverage Association’s membership includes soft drink giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Coca-Cola has already pledged to switch to 50 percent recycled materials by 2030. PepsiCo last year said it would increase the amount of its recycled content to 35 percent by 2025.

California currently requires glass bottles sold in the state to be made of 35 percent recycled material, while 50 percent of newsprint must be made from recycled content, according to The Mercury News.

The law’s supporters believe it will help boost demand for recycled plastic, reduce litter in waterways and roads, and lower consumption of oil and gas used to manufacture new plastics. “This is the most ambitious, aggressive recycled plastics content law in the world,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the Mercury News.

Out of the estimated 12 billion plastic bottles sold in California each year, about 70 percent are recycled, according to state statistics. Still, more than 3 billion bottles are not recycled and usually end up in landfills or as litter.

The problem of plastic pollution has been complicated by China’s decision two years ago to stop accepting many waste plastics for recycling. That left collectors of used plastic with few options for selling the material.

“We are doing a really good job of collecting things for recycling,” Murray said in the Mercury News story. “The difficult part has been finding an end-use market for it. This new law is about closing the loop. Now companies that manufacture the plastic bottles have to buy them back. They’ll have the responsibility.”

In a website post, Californians Against Waste said the law “has some characteristics that have made it a model [of] efficiency.”

“Like all bottle bills, the payment of a deposit by consumers (California Redemption Value or CRV) is the backbone of the program,” the post explains. “Consumers pay $0.05 for containers under 24 ounces and $0.10 for containers over 24 ounces. That money is returned to consumers when they recycle their containers or is ‘donated’ to a curbside operator or nonprofit recycler, depending on how the consumer chooses to recycle the container.”

“The CRV is essential to California’s high beverage container recycling rate and its low beverage container litter rate,” the post continues. “By putting a monetary value on the recycling of beverage containers, consumers are much more likely to recycle” plastic bottles rather than throw them in the trash or discard them outdoors.

The bill also requires manufacturers of beverage containers to pay a fee that goes to recyclers, helping them offset the cost differential between the cost to recycle that type of container and the value that type of recycled material fetches on the marketplace.

“Because the processing fee is much higher for difficult-to-recycle container types, like #3-7 plastic, California’s bottle bill incentivizes manufacturers to design their products with recyclability in mind.”

California State Assembly members Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, authored the bill.

“The time has come for companies to step up and help us be good environmental stewards,” Ting told The Mercury News. “By boosting the market for used plastics, fewer containers will end up as litter.”

Three Sullivan Foundation Schools Partner to Produce More Teachers With Ed.D Degrees

Three Sullivan Foundation partner schools in South Carolina—Clemson University, The Citadel and Winthrop University—are working together to help more teachers earn their Doctorate of Education (Ed.D).

The three universities, along with Coastal Carolina University, partnered in 2018 to establish the Consortium for Innovative Educational Practice. The consortium aims to improve student outcomes by addressing ongoing, critical educational issues in the state through research initiatives.

The program’s first group of students (pictured above) started class in the summer of 2018.

Related: Honors student who fed thousands and rape survivor advocate receive Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards at The Citadel

Students completing Ed.S. programs at any of the four institutions will graduate with prerequisite courses for Clemson’s Ed.D., which speeds up their time of completion. Clemson delivers the Ed.D. program in several formats—including online and hybrid—at off-campus sites across the state. The consortium has geared the program to part-time students and full-time employees who wish to remain in the school or practice setting.

“Earning a doctorate in education is the pinnacle of professional development for teachers,” said Lee Westberry, a professor and the program coordinator for education leadership at The Citadel. “In addition to personal growth, earning an Ed.D. creates many new and practical opportunities in a variety of educational career paths.”

The consortium will benefit teachers and schools across the state, said George J. Petersen, founding dean of Clemson’s College of Education, when the program was announced. “Together we will work to solve real and persistent issues in districts, schools and classrooms,” he said. “South Carolina’s children and communities will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this dynamic, collaborative and innovative program.”

In each of the three years since the partnership was formed, Citadel graduates have made up much, if not most, of the students in the group. In fact, more than half of the newest Ed.D. students are from The Citadel.

“I have found myself reflecting on how the Ed.S. program has flowed seamlessly into Clemson’s Ed.D. to continue my own growth as I pursue my goals,” said Kevin Smith, an Ed.S. graduate from The Citadel. “I highly recommend those who are interested in making an impact to invest their time with the committed faculty of The Citadel’s Ed.S. program. I believe it is the right choice for those who desire, like me, to be an educational leader of consequence.”

Related: Shepherd Hotel in Clemson, S.C. to employ special-needs adults in 2021

According to Westberry, an Ed.S. is required to work as a superintendent, the highest-ranking education official. But an Ed.D. is for something more.

The Citadel’s Ed.S. in Educational Leadership offers teachers an advanced graduate degree, between a master’s and a doctoral, that prepares them as candidates for certification at the superintendent level. Clemson’s Ed.D. program offers teachers the theoretical and practical knowledge and research skills they need to be educational leaders.

According to Jennie F. Rakestraw, dean of Winthrop University’s College of Education, every new dissertation in the program brings the chance for a new, innovative solution to a problem of education practice. She said the partnership provides a structure to address educational issues witnessed in the state through jointly-designed graduate programs, research and advocacy initiatives.

“My hope is that all of South Carolina’s schools, districts and communities acquire the educational leaders they need to bring about change and that young people around the state experience the educational opportunities and success they deserve,” Rakestraw said. “We hope to reach historically underserved areas of the state and bring a new collaborative approach to solving educational problems.”

This article has been edited from two stories appearing here and here on The Citadel’s website.

Bellarmine University Offers STEM Scholarships for Low-Income, High-Achieving Students

With a grant of nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Bellarmine University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school in Louisville, Kentucky, is creating a scholarship program to recruit low-income, high-achieving students into the STEM disciplines of computer engineering, computer science, mathematics and data science.

The STEM Career Pathways Scholarship program will award annual scholarships of $7,200 each to two groups of 11 low-income, academically talented students for four years—one beginning in Fall 2021 and the second in Fall 2022. When combined with other financial-aid sources, Bellarmine expects the scholarship will cover nearly all direct tuition costs for most of the 22 recipients.

The program will provide career-related experiential learning through internships or research with industry partners in the community. It will help all scholars attain STEM employment or enter a graduate program within six months of graduation.

Related: Bellarmine University recognizes two graduating seniors with prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards

Career Pathways will also help meet the local, regional and national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians and will help grant investigators better understand the relationships between the program’s elements and student outcomes.

“Thanks to the expertise and dedication of our faculty, Bellarmine has made tremendous progress in our effort to secure more federal dollars,” said President Susan M. Donovan. “This grant from the National Science Foundation—one of the largest federal grants Bellarmine has received—will help academically talented low-income and first-generation students envision and achieve rewarding careers in the STEM fields. It will also strengthen our community by producing ethically minded scientists and engineers trained in the liberal arts tradition.”

“This project is an excellent example of Bellarmine University’s commitment to integrating student learning and success, community impact and scientific discovery,” added Dr. Paul Gore, Bellarmine’s vice president for Academic Affairs and provost.

Career Pathways aligns with Bellarmine’s strategic plan, which calls for academic innovation, transformative student experiences, expansion and diversification of enrollment, accessibility and affordability, and mutually beneficial partnerships in Louisville and the region.

Bellarmine will work with the Jefferson County Public Schools’ career and technical academies to recruit students. A STEM (Tech/Analytics) Employer Advisory Board will facilitate new partnerships between students and regional employers and will keep faculty members apprised of the skills in greatest demand in STEM industries.

The eight community partners that have formally agreed to collaborate with Bellarmine on the Career Pathways program so far are Appriss, Inc., edjAnalytics, El Toro, Humana, LG&E, Masonic Home Kentucky, GE Appliances and the Microsoft Future of Work Initiative.


“We are so excited that this NSF grant will support Bellarmine in their efforts around increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in innovative technology fields,” said Alisia McClain, director of community innovation and workforce development at the Microsoft Future of Work Initiative. “Bellarmine is a trailblazer in the field of education, and we are proud to continue to partner with them in their work.”

Increasing graduates in STEM fields will help to fill significant local industry needs in the ever-expanding technology economy. Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development agency, has also formed a partnership with Bellarmine and aims to add 6,000 local technology jobs by 2023. By recruiting and training traditionally underrepresented students, the STEM Career Pathways Scholarship program will also add much-needed diversity to the STEM workforce.

Related: Special education major Morgan Crowe receives Sullivan Scholarship at Lees-McRae College

“I’m thrilled to see this important federal funding being awarded to Bellarmine to help students meet future STEM industry needs in the careers of tomorrow,” said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who represents Kentucky’s 3rd District.

Louisville will reap the benefits of the grant for years to come, Yarmuth said. “This is a much-deserved investment in some of the brightest young minds around and will help level the playing field and increase diversity in key fields. By investing in education, we invest in our workforce, in innovation, and truly in our entire community.”

The NSF Career Pathways grant of $988,470 builds upon a successful $600,000 STEM grant awarded to Bellarmine by the NSF for a 2012-2018 program in which 70% of the enrolled students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the target STEM majors. Based on lessons learned from that program, the Career Pathways program will significantly enhance its Eureka Learning Community, a holistic living-learning community in which non-health- and medical science-related STEM majors share peer, faculty and alumni mentoring and career-related extracurricular experiences. Notably, the university will add a shared curricular component and a stronger focus on career development and industry internship experiences.

Bellarmine will investigate and evaluate the relationship between the Career Pathways students’ demographics and internship/research experiences and their retention and post-graduate success and will compare those factors to other STEM student outcomes. The goal of the program is to achieve a first-year retention rate of 75% and a four-year graduation rate of 70% for the Career Pathways students. These results will help to identify best practices for including underrepresented groups in STEM programs as well as for creating experiential learning in STEM higher education.

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Bellarmine University website.

Auburn Alumni Association Launches Buy-One, Give-One COVID-19 Mask Initiative

The Auburn Alumni Association has launched a COVID-19 mask initiative through which Auburn University alumni and friends can purchase exclusive, limited-edition Auburn face masks for personal use while also donating a mask to an underserved area of Alabama.

In partnership with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Auburn Alumni Association will donate a COVID-19 mask to the area of greatest need in Alabama for every mask that is sold through its mask initiative.

Related: Auburn’s University Outreach delivers leadership training to find common ground in difficult times

Each design is a limited edition. Once masks bearing a particular design is sold out, no more will be produced, and a new design will then be created, according to a press release from Auburn, a Sullivan Foundation partner school.

The Auburn Alumni Association partnered with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association to host the Auburn face mask products on their alumni marketplace, Minnesota Alumni Market.

“We are so excited about the impact this exciting initiative will make on Alabamians and look forward to seeing these beautiful designs throughout our state,” said Gretchen VanValkenburg, vice president for alumni affairs and executive director of the Auburn Alumni Association. “I am especially grateful to my fellow CAAE member and alumni colleague, Lisa Lewis [president and CEO of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association], for her assistance and support.”

this photo shows a close-up of the limited-edition Auburn University COVID-19 mask

Donated masks will be distributed to areas in Alabama with the most need as determined by Alabama Extension.

“It’s times like these that we find the greatest comfort in knowing that alumni communities from two different conferences can unite for a larger cause,” said Jessica King, director of communications and marketing for the Auburn Alumni Association.

Related: Lincoln Memorial University professor creates 300-plus COVID-19 masks for DAR project

Extension Director Gary Lemme agreed. “Alabama Extension has offices in each county and is Auburn University’s connection to every community in Alabama,” he said.  “Extension is proud to partner with the Auburn Alumni Association in distributing donated masks to underserved residents. The ‘buy one-donate one’ approach of Auburn alumni proudly wearing a mask from their alma mater and donating a second mask to someone with limited resources is truly the spirit of Auburn’s creed. Efforts like this are what makes the Auburn University family special and real.”

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Auburn University website.

Students, Faculty Rank Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass as Best Virtual Event They Have Ever Attended

As the pandemic continues to rage across the country, it has gotten harder to network and collaborate with fellow changemakers and share new solutions to social issues. Now the Sullivan Foundation is making it easy again, thanks to a new online program called Ignite Masterclass.

With its popular Ignite Retreats, usually held twice a year in North Carolina, currently on hold, the Sullivan Foundation is bringing social-change leaders, college students and faculty/staff together through the weekly Ignite Masterclass sessions—and all classes are free. Even better, many participants say it’s the best online event they have ever attended.

Click here to learn more about Ignite Masterclass, sign up and view the 2020 schedule.

Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, leads the sessions. Each one features a mini-lecture from a social innovator about a specific initiative, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other leaders in the field.

“The Ignite Masterclass introduces you to leaders around the world engaged in social change and helps open doors so you can take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With more than 50 coaches and speakers joining the sessions every week throughout the fall, bring your curiosity, because you never know who you might meet each week!”

With the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats on hold due to the pandemic, retreat leader Spud Marshall has found a new way to bring changemakers together through the Ignite Masterclass program.

The pandemic brought a screeching halt to live events like the Ignite Retreats, but virtual programming has filled the gap. In fact, holding Ignite Masterclasses online once a week allows Marshall to recruit dozens of thought leaders to share their ideas and time with participants. “One of the biggest values of the Ignite Retreat is the ability for people to connect with others who can help you take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With the Ignite Masterclass series, we are creating the same networking experience and offering it weekly throughout the fall. We have more than 50 coaches and speakers for participants to connect with during the sessions.”

Marshall said he conducted a survey of participants to get their feedback on the sessions. “The majority of participants rank the Ignite Masterclass as the best virtual event they’ve ever attended,” he said.

“We’ve designed the sessions so that everyone walks away with content and connection,” he added. “Our featured speakers share stories about their work and helpful tips and frameworks they use to advance social change in their field. And then we end the sessions with a networking lounge for participants to connect with coaches who can help you figure out how to apply that content to your personal life, problems in your home community, and through projects you want to get involved in.”

Ignite Masterclasses offer benefits to college students and faculty/staff members who are passionate about creating positive social change. All classes are aimed at both audiences, who can collaborate to launch their own initiatives both in and beyond the classroom.

For students, the benefits include:

  • Building relationships with peers and fellow students throughout the country
  • Access to national leaders in the social innovation and changemaking space
  • An inspiring alternative to Zoom webinars—these sessions are fully interactive and motivate participants to start taking action now.

For college faculty and staff members, the benefits include:

  • Access to new topics and national speakers each week for nine weeks
  • Interacting with up to 70 Sullivan partner schools and their students in real time from classrooms throughout the country
  • Creating assignments around topical workshops and sessions each week
  • Workshops are relevant to students as well as faculty
  • All faculty and students are welcome to participate at no charge

Recent Ignite Masterclass sessions have covered topics such as sustainable design and how to apply the principles of sustainability to product design and development; storytelling for racial and social justice and the media’s role in perpetuating social injustice; and pushing through adversity and navigating the discomfort of change and uncertainty.

Tessa Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Asset Education, will lead an upcoming Ignite Masterclass session on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The next Ignite Masterclass will be held in two sessions, from 12:30-1:45 p.m. and 2:00-3:15 p.m. (ET), on Tuesday, Sept. 29. It features Tessa Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Asset Education, and focuses on maintaining health and well-being in a chaotic and conflict-ridden era. The session will explore a variety of stress-reducing, resilience-boosting tools and strategies that will help you be well and stay well.

Here’s a preview of sessions scheduled for October 2020:

  • 11 a.m-12:15 p.m. and 3:00-4:15 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, Oct. 6: Developing Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice, with Reagan Pugh of Assemble. The session will guide participants through a dialogue on default mindsets, examine how fear prevents us from growth and provide strategies for developing empathy to advance social causes you care about.
  • 9:30-10:45 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (ET), Thursday, Oct. 15: Design Thinking for Personal Growth and Social Innovation, with Kaveh Sadeghian of the Center for Social Impact Strategy. Sadeghian will introduce participants to the core principles of design thinking, creativity and social innovation and explore how to create meaningful work that matches your personal values.
  • 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET), Monday, Oct. 19: Nature-Inspired Solutions for a Healthier, More Sustainable World, with Jared Yarnall-Schane of the Biomimicry Institute. This session will introduce participants to biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges. It will also highlight case studies on businesses that learn from and support the natural world.
  • 1:00-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET), Wednesday, Oct. 28: Reimagining Education With Rappers and Corporate America, with Jarren Small of Reading With a Rapper. Small will discuss creative ways to pursue change within the education system through unlikely partnerships, such as bringing rap artists into the classroom to teach language and arts skills.

Auburn’s University Outreach Delivers Leadership Training to Find Common Ground in Difficult Times

The Office of University Outreach at Sullivan Foundation partner school Auburn University has begun implementing a leadership training guide titled “Culture Bump: 8 Steps to Common Ground” as a tool to teach the Culture Bump Approach to individuals and educational leaders throughout Alabama.

The 149-page book, available on, was written by Carol Archer, originator of the Culture Bump theory and a former staff member at the University of Houston Language and Culture Center, and Stacey Nickson, director of Auburn’s Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement (CEOE). University Outreach has provided training for 55 staff members responsible for Head Start education at six locations in Alabama’s Black Belt.

“Auburn University’s Culture Bump training takes a different approach by helping our staff provide an educational environment that respects the values of every family whose child attends Head Start by finding common ground, even if we personally have an opposite point of view,” said Felecia Lucky, president of the Black Belt Community Foundation that oversees Head Start.

The Culture Bump Approach is an engaging and interactive process that teaches transformation of “culture bumps”—or differences with others—into authentic relationships. It includes a method that teaches negotiation of new insights into one’s own character or culture and leads to an exploration of “why” humans are different while affirming “how” we are the same.

University Outreach’s Culture Bump training makes this possible not only for individuals, but also for businesses, governments, schools, universities, hospitals, religious institutions, the military, political parties and neighborhood groups or for anyone faced with a circumstance in which people are confronted with “others.”

Earlier this summer, Outreach began training leaders from the Birmingham City Schools Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as part of its School Climate Transformation Initiative Grant.

“Culture Bump diffuses a reactionary mindset of actively displaying biases against another,” said Stephanie Turner, director of PBIS. “Culture Bump teaches an individual to explore and understand differences through a process of being open-minded, communicative, honest and accepting. Simply stated, Culture Bump teaches individuals to become proactive and not reactive toward understanding differences among others.”

Culture Bump philosophy states that having bias is a human trait that will never go away and, in fact, that bias is necessary. It is a collection of biased thoughts that lead people to respond differently than one another, the concept presents.

“Naming the experience as a ‘culture bump’ rather than an intentional, personal act reveals the possibility of something beyond culture, something that is more universal,” Archer and Nickson state in the book, which was published in December.

The Culture Bump theory is predicated on the reality that people cannot escape the fact that interactions in every arena are influenced by individual responses to differences. Positive, negative or neutral reactions reveal themselves in the conflicts and violence that result from decisions made in response to differences in politics, education, religion, socioeconomics, race, gender, nationality or ethnicity.

“When we think of common ground, we generally understand it to be mutual understanding, and we assume that this includes agreement … Culture Bump points out that common ground and commonalities do not imply acceptance or even agreement; they simply imply a mutually understood category in which the individuals can hold opposite points of view,” Archer and Nickson write in the guide.

Culture Bump Approach tools and training can be accessed through the Auburn University Outreach’s CEOE. The Culture Bump online courses, virtual and hybrid trainings are administered through University Outreach.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Auburn University website.

Winthrop University Student Uses National Guard Position to Serve Children in Need

Charles Hoffmann, a Winthrop University student majoring in elementary education, traveled to Horry County, S.C., in April 2020 for what was originally a two-week mission to deliver meals to children in need. It ended up turning into two months.

Growing up in Clover, S.C., Hoffmann, a U.S. Army National Guard Specialist, greatly admired his parents’ and grandfather’s dedication to their country. His mother served as a Judge Advocate General in the Tennessee Army Guard for 24 years, while his father served as a field artillery officer in the 101st Airborne Division.

“I mainly joined the National Guard to help pay for school but also because I wanted to carry on the tradition of serving in my family,” Hoffmann said. “Both my parents served in the Army as well as my grandfather, and it makes me extremely proud to follow in their footsteps.”

As part of their work with the Guard’s 1050th Transportation Battalion and the 178th Engineer Battalion, Hoffmann and his fellow soldiers found themselves in Horry County this spring.

“We were tasked with driving the school buses on routes to deliver meals to kids,” Hoffmann explained. “My route took me right into downtown Myrtle Beach, and I had several stops at motels and trailer parks where hundreds of kids live. The civilian bus drivers that had been doing my route before had been handing out books to the kids.”

He decided to try and raise money to buy books. “Once the librarians in the school district found out what we were doing, we had more books than we could give away,” Hoffmann said. “In total, we distributed upwards of 2,000 books throughout Horry County. This was only made possible with the help of my fellow soldiers from the 1050th Transportation Battalion and the 178th Engineer Battalion.”

For his efforts, Hoffmann was honored by NASCAR this summer as part of its NASCAR Salutes Refreshing Moments campaign.

Throughout his National Guard career, Hoffmann said, he has appreciated being able to take part in COVID-19 relief missions, including missions for DHEC, the Medical University of South Carolina and other medical organizations that are operating mobile test sites statewide.

Hoffmann’s wife, Hadasah, is currently studying exercise science at Winthrop. After graduation, Hoffmann hopes to pursue full-time opportunities with the National Guard, continuing his love of service.

“Being able to serve your country as well as your community and state is one of the reasons the National Guard is so unique,” he said.

This story has been edited from the original version appearing on the Winthrop University website.

West Virginia Wesleyan College Unveils Solar Canopy With Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, and key partners recently unveiled a solar canopy that will help reduce the school’s carbon footprint and boost its sustainability efforts.

The solar canopy houses four electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has a solar capacity of approximately 60 kilowatts, which will provide the energy equivalent of the use of six average American homes for a year. In addition, the solar canopy has the potential to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of 13 average American cars for one year.

Thanks to the support of the energy sector, including alumnus Charles “Chip” Pickering of Pickering Energy Solutions, “The college is able to expand its solar footprint with the opening of the solar-powered canopy,” Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia Wesleyan, said.

Related: Recycling cars in the modern world

Thierstein noted that the solar canopy joins the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library as the second on-campus entity with a clean-energy component. The solar canopy was made possible by a gift from Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provided a federal grant to incentivize the investment by Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the sustainability efforts of West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Pickering said. “From their recycling programs to energy-efficiency projects, adding renewable energy provides support for the development and focus of the next generation of our future leaders.”

Other participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Keri Dunn of Pickering Energy Solutions; Kris Warner of the USDA Rural Development; and Robert Fernatt of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association.

Related: Auburn professor’s research aims to make more efficient use of solar energy

“Pickering Energy Solutions is honored to be able to facilitate the use of clean energy and encourage the use of electric vehicles in West Virginia and specifically here at West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Dunn said.

“Having the ability to produce clean, renewable energy in West Virginia is an important asset that helps the West Virginia economy and rural communities by reducing energy costs and saving money that can be utilized in other key areas of the community,” Warner added.

“This is very exciting,” Thierstein later told a local TV station. “The students are excited to see this kind of thing because it means we are on the cutting edge. We are a state-of-the-art campus, and this is evidence that we are.”

This article has been adapted from the original version appearing on the West Virginia Wesleyan College website.

Lincoln Memorial University Professor Makes 300-Plus COVID-19 Masks for DAR Project

Katherine Pebworth, a sport and exercise science professor at Sullivan Foundation partner school Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), has made over 300 COVID-19 masks since June as part of a service project for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)—Service to America Committee.

“The DAR Service to America Committee started in March, so I was later to the sewing party, or I would have [made] more masks,” Pebworth said. “I thought, I haven’t sewn in many years, I will give it a try.”

Pebworth watched YouTube videos to perfect her mask-sewing technique and then set to work with fun prints like license plates and candy corn.

“I enjoy doing this as it now relaxes me. I like seeing the finished product,” Pebworth said. “It is one thing in this crazy time of 2020 that I have control over. If we are going to have to keep wearing these for a while, I did not want to keep using the disposable masks, so why not make them? I also like to use a variety of different fabrics. I, of course, keep one of each kind that I make for myself to wear.”

Pebworth became a member of DAR in 1996 when her mother signed her up. It was a few years later before she really started to take an active role. “Being involved, to me, helps me to honor my ancestors who fought hard to come to this country back in the 1600s,” she said. “It is a way that I can keep them alive. I like doing different service projects because it is a way to give back to the community.”

As of September 1, the organization has sewn and given away a total of 612,191 masks. Pebworth has given her masks to students and colleagues at LMU and mailed them to friends and family in other states. She even made a set of about 50 canoe print masks last month for all of the Lincoln Ambassadors and the staff of LMU Welcome Weekend to match the “Camp LMU” theme.

Since its founding in 1890, DAR members have worked to promote historic preservation, patriotism and educational ideals in communities across the nation and in overseas chapters. The Service to America initiative encourages members to become involved in community service to discover the rewards of volunteerism, to demonstrate the positive volunteer opportunities associated with DAR members to others, and to help make their local communities a better, friendlier place.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Lincoln Memorial University website.