Someone’s garbage can be turned into someone else’s future, according to 14-year-old student Kashfia Zaman.
The Woodside resident is a sophomore at Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria who began a community service project after a teacher suggested students become involved in starting a volunteer project.
As part of the project, Zaman collects discarded bottles and cans, deposits them for cash, donates the money to the Queens Library at Long Island City, located at 37-44 21 St., and then asks local businesses to match the amount she collects.
“I thought to do something concerning the environment because of global warming,” said Zaman, who hopes to one day be a software engineer or computer programmer. “So I thought about recycling bottles and cans. And I remembered in my elementary school there was a teacher who, when she recycled bottles and cans, she would cash them in to help her sister, whose house fell down in a tornado. So I got all this money, and I decided to do something for the community.”
With the help of her teacher, Zaman drafted a written pledge and asked businesses to sign. She has received matching funds from Astoria business such as Imagination Unisex Hair Designer at 25-01 Newton Ave., Anthia Digenakis of Function Enhancing Physical Therapy at 32-76 31st St. and Guillermo Hung of Pao & Cha Cha at 23-03 Astoria Blvd.
“I decided to give it to the library because the library has always been a very important thing to me. It was always there for me. I could always go to the library and request as many books as I want,” she said.
So far, Zaman has collected more than $120 and purchased new books for tweens, children between 10 to 12 years old, at her library. She said she decided to help get books for younger children because she wants to help them get into the habit of reading and become inspired to volunteer and help out in their communities.
“I was completely blown away by the vastness of her project and I was excited to buy books for our children,” said Tienya Smith, community library manager at Queens Library at Long Island City.
Zaman said that she and a friend are also in the process of creating a website in which they discuss the importance of keeping more libraries open during the weekends, in order for students to have access to do their homework or use the Internet.
“On the website we have letters and pictures explaining why we would want to keep the libraries open on weekends,” she said. “My friend and I are also writing a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him if he could make a little more space in the budget for libraries.”