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Indian River senior seeks fabric scraps for scholarship

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THERESA — Honestly, what use are old linens, torn T-shirts and frayed assorted fabrics that might fetch at most a few bucks on a good day?

Indian River High School senior Morgan E. Wewer, Theresa, hopes this hodgepodge of items — a sort of Island of Misfit Toys — might just help pay for college.

“This is a really great way to get people to recycle things they don’t want anymore,” said the 16-year-old. Collecting clothes and other unwanted textiles, Morgan hopes to win a $10,000 scholarship through DoSomething.org and the retail chain H&M.

She hopes to use the $10,000 scholarship toward her first year’s $14,000 tuition and housing at SUNY Institute of Technology, Utica, where she plans to study computer engineering. Ms. Wewer’s mother, Rebecca S., said the scholarship winner will be chosen at random from among fellow competitors. But her daughter wants to donate the most clothing so her school can be eligible to receive a $4,000 grant targeted toward a green project.

“They can use it for solar panels, a recycling project — the money can be used for anything as long as it’s a green project,” Rebecca Wewer said.

Morgan said this is one of many scholarships she wishes to obtain.

Not only will Morgan’s collection clear out the unwanted items from people’s homes, it will keep non-biodegradable products out of landfills, she said.

“A lot of fabrics (that) people throw away aren’t biodegradable because they have plastics and metals in them,” Morgan said.

Most fabrics can be recycled, according to DoSomething.org. Yet 85 percent of textiles made each year end up in landfills and contribute up to 11.1 million tons of waste.

To enter the contest, Ms. Wewer must submit a photo illustrating how much she was able to collect and drop it off at the H&M retail store in Syracuse.

“I probably have 50 big bags and a bunch of boxes,” Morgan said. “There’s really no way to judge it.” With help from her family, friends and school staff — not to mention donations of all unsold items from Hearthstone Ministry, Adams — she already has too much to fit into her family’s pickup truck.

The owner of U Lock It, a self-storage business, will help Morgan get a truck to transport all of the items she collects to Syracuse.

“When it’s all collected, he said he will help me get the right size truck I need for all the stuff,” Morgan said. She plans to continue hunting for unwanted items, visiting yard and garage sales and asking the sellers if they’d be willing to donate clothes. “I’ve gotten a lot of clothes, blankets, baby clothes, jeans and a couple of prom gowns,” she said.

Items that can be donated include old beach towels, stained or torn items, bedsheets, cloth napkins and more.

Morgan’s deadline to submit clothing and other items is June 20. She will collect the items through June 11.

For more information on how to donate, call 486-0378.

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