The Gleaner

Genie in the Bottle Project boosts Athelstan fireworks

After being forced to cancel last year’s celebration, fireworks will once again light up the sky over Athelstan on Canada Day, thanks in part to a special local fundraiser.
Hinchinbrooke’s mayor Carolyn Cameron says there was no question as to whether the fireworks would take place as this year, as it is the 50th anniversary of the popular event.

“With it being outdoors, we can be all over the ballfield in small groups as long as we are careful about it,” she explains, and adds that those who prefer to watch from parked cars are welcome to do so.

Valley native Shirley Cavanagh has fond memories of watching the fireworks in Athelstan. She is the founder of the Genie in the Bottle Project, which collects bottles and cans to raise funds for local organizations. Cavanagh presented a $1,000 cheque to the municipality in support of the fireworks. “It will help them to do a bit extra,” says Cavanagh of the donation. The municipality has been a willing partner in her project, offering the use of municipal spaces for community bottle drives.


The founder of the Genie in the Bottle Project, Shirley Cavanagh, donated $1,000 to mayor Carolyn Cameron and the municipality of Hinchinbrooke in support of the 50th anniversary of the Athelstan Canada Day fireworks. PHOTO Courtesy of the Genie in the Bottle Project


In order to raise the $1,000, Cavanagh has been collecting bottles and cans since April, which were added to those brought in during a community bottle drive in May. The funds represent 744 beer bottles, 10,360 aluminum cans, 1,660 plastic bottles, 1,638 wine and spirits bottles, and 255 glass bottles, all of which were kept from landfills. Cavanagh admits that when she first started the project, she was mainly interested in its potential as a fundraiser, “but the environmental impact is just taking on much more meaning,” she says.

In ten months, she has raised $13,600 for different charities including the Betty Riel Foundation and the VOBOC Foundation. She has recycled 46,000 wine bottles, 55,000 aluminum cans, and 4,000 plastic bottles. “It is giving back, and people are really happy to have somewhere to bring their recycling,” she says.

Cavanagh says she spends around 20 hours a week on the project but has a team of equally dedicated volunteers, which now includes Mayor Cameron.

Cavanagh hopes that other area municipalities will consider working with the Genie in the Bottle Project as well. The next community bottle drives will take place on July 17 and October 16 at the John Darragh Trucking Company, located at 822 Route 138, in Godmanchester.


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