Two Men from Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Turn Trash into Art

HNP Communications Around the Province

CAMDEN, N.J. — Two volunteers from the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry (FVM) here are giving new meaning to the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

What started out as Daniel Bourdua and Mike Smith doing their part to pick up trash on the street has turned into a student art project to raise awareness for recycling, and a fund-raiser for St. Anthony’s of Padua School in inner-city Camden.

Bourdua and Smith picked up trash that littered the streets near their homes and helped the students turn it into artwork. The children quickly started picking up around their school. Their Trash-Art Project was displayed at the Perkins Center for the Arts in Collingswood, N.J. throughout July.

“The trash-filled-streets situation is what spurred the idea of Trash-Art,” said Bourdua, Trash-Art project director. “In effect, we are taking what someone else deemed useless, and we are turning it into art. I thought about how the art would be put together. Then, I told the children about the project. The children at St. Anthony’s of Padua School are the first, but not the last to participate in this project.”

The children jumped into the project by cleaning up the open space on the street across from the school. This project was developed, according to Bourdua, as an art project that would double as a fundraiser for the school. Donors gave materials and art supplies that the students used to turn the trash into artwork. In addition, grants and donations were sought from the Camden County Cultural and Heritage Commission and other foundations.

“I wanted the children to learn from this experience that it takes a lot of hard work and coordination to accomplish their goals. When we first started, I wanted the children to be proud of their efforts, and now, they are proud of their art.”

In addition, children learned about the effects of disregarding their landscapes, how broken glass could injure people, and how dirty yards will not be the future for them.

“My hope is that when they are deliberating in their minds, can we or should we try something creative, new, and charitable, I want them to say ‘Yes’ and try. If they fail to try, and fail to dream, they may never be able to catch on to the big picture, or their purpose in life.”

The Trash-Art project has raised children’s spirits, and Bourdua hopes to continue to raise both awareness and the funds to support a better arts-education experience for inner-city schools.