VAN WERT – Ohio State University leader Heather Gottke said late this week that local 4-H clubs are collecting bottle caps to be recycled into plastic benches. The goal is for each club to collect enough caps to make at least one bench to be placed in the Van Wert County Fairgrounds.

The initial goal is for each club to collect at least 200 pounds of caps. The kids will sort through the caps.

Gottke said that the groups would like to collect enough caps over a five-year-period to construct a total of 100 benches. Benches will then be placed throughout the fairgrounds by the determination of 4-Hers.

The foundation for the kick-off of the cap drive will be this Tuesday’s annual Van Wert County fundraiser. Those collecting caps are invited to bring them to the fundraiser. They can be turned in directly or for those who decide to do drive-in pick-up chicken.

“Anyone can turn in caps,” said Gottke. “Those collecting caps do not have to be affiliated with 4-H. We welcome all donations.”

The chicken barbecue will be held at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds in the commercial building (enter at Fox Road). The meal, which will be served from 3 – 7 p.m., will consist of half chicken, baked potato, green beans, roll, and cole slaw for a total cost of $9. The food is prepared by the Black Angus on Main Street.

Money from the chicken barbecue will go towards reducing camp rates $25 per child. Camp will be held at Camp Palmer, north of Archbold. Rachel Hoverman is the program director of the camp, which will be held from July 5-9.

“You don’t have to belong to a 4-H Club to go to camp,” said Gottke, who noted that the camp is open for children between the ages of eight and 14.

Gottke noted that profit from the barbecue also helps support 4-H project books, put on workshops and help pay for promotional materials. Dates for the fair this year are Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

The program to gather caps is referred to as “ABC Promise Partnership” and is developed under Green Tree Plastics, Inc. A team of six school children developed the ABC program in March of 2010. This was originally an entry in a nationwide academic competition in a recycling community program.

“This program between children and Green Tree Plastics is specifically to be a tool for each about caring for the earth,” said Gottke. “The bench is to belong to the children; it is to be placed where they want it to be placed so they can show others the results of their work and they value of recycling.”

Contact Gottke for further information concerning the drive at 419-238-1214.