Schwegler going environmentally friendly in fundraiser for PTA

Schwegler School students won’t be going door-to-door selling the traditional cookie dough and wrapping paper this year.

Instead, for the 50th anniversary at the school, 2201 Ousdahl Road, a major fundraising effort consists of selling energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and compost bags for leaf collection.

“We also want kids to think about what do they need to do to help the community live for the next 50 years and tying in that environmental theme,” said Lars Leon, PTA president.

Funding will benefit PTA-sponsored events, including playing host to artist Daniel Dancer and his “Art for the Sky” program in November.

Leon said the school expects to raise several thousand dollars.

The bulbs come in a four-pack for $12 each, and the 30-gallon lawn and leaf bags come in a five-pack for $4.

The PTA has purchased the bags from the city.

Westar Energy is also working with a supplier to give the school a deal on the bulbs.

Gina Penzig, a Westar Energy spokeswoman, said Schwegler is the first school to approach the company with this type of fundraising idea.

“It is exciting. It’s a neat opportunity and chance to start talking about how we use energy with children and ingraining those habits at such a young age,” she said.

The announcement of the fundraiser coincided with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius encouraging Kansans on Wednesday to change at least one light bulb in their homes to a more energy-efficient model. Sebelius said if all households in Kansas did so, it could save enough electricity per year to light every home in Topeka for 220 days.

Penzig said the compact fluorescent bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, so they do require precaution in case they break. Safety information for disposal is available from Westar or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The compact fluorescent bulbs do initially cost more, but because they last longer and produce less heat, energy companies and agencies tout them as energy cost savers.

According to Westar’s Web site, replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 15-watt compact fluorescent would save $4.60 a year.

“If you multiply that by the number of lights in your home, then it tends to add up pretty quickly,” Penzig said.