Copper For Kids

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Copper For Kids

American Family Children's Hospital's Copper for Kids: Man working with copperMadison, Wisconsin - If all the construction crews, cranes and hard hat zones are any indication, it may seem as if UW Hospital and Clinics is in a perpetual state of building and remodeling.
Working amid such a bustling construction environment, UW Hospital electrical trades supervisor Jeff Gertgen and transportation/labor manager Terry Frink got to thinking - how might the hospital put the truckloads of waste from these construction projects to good use?
The idea for a fundraiser was born. In the "Copper for Kids" program, old copper wiring and tubing from hospital construction projects is being recycled to raise money for American Family Children's Hospital.
"We were thinking one day about all of the recycled material coming out of the building from all of the construction projects, and we started thinking that it would be a really good thing if we could pull that copper out of the trash," says Gertgen.
"And it would be even better if we could put it into a special recycling project and earmark those funds for the children's hospital," he added. "With all of the construction that goes on around here, it's basically a never-ending fundraiser. We'll always be collecting the copper and turning over checks for the children's hospital."
Copper for Kids Impact
Since its inception in 2006, Copper for Kids has raised more than $400,000 to support a variety of areas in American Family Children's Hospital.
Copper for Kids' impact is far-reaching:
  • Supported the PICU Team Work Room in AFCH
  • Supported the development of interactive television programming in AFCH
  • Provided dinners for more than 5,000 family members of patients
  • Purchased a fish for the "Go Fish" exhibit
  • Supported hundreds of nights of lodging for parents of patients
  • Provided 500 hours of care for siblings of patients.

Before the Copper for Kids effort, contractors involved in construction projects at the hospital typically recycled the scrap copper on their own, and some of it was simply thrown out, says Frink. But since the fundraiser began, Frink says contractors have willingly turned over old copper wiring and tubing for the cause.

"They've seen the benefit of what we're trying to do," Frink says. "The contractors have been really helpful with working with us and trying to help. They just let us know whenever their bins are full, and we take it away to be recycled."

"We're not just being selfish - we want to recycle and put that money to a good use," Frink added.

Since the Copper for Kids project began, the hospital has added language to building contracts that gives the hospital discretion over all salvage materials.

UW Hospital and Clinics receives premium pricing for its scrap copper, thanks to a strong working relationship with All Metal Recycling in Madison. 

A healing environment
For Gertgen, the project means much more to him than merely making sure the hospital is maximizing its recycling efforts. His daughter Samantha struggled with a severe seizure disorder for 16 years, and the Gertgens are no strangers to children's hospitals.
"It's great to know that kids have an opportunity to go to such a nice hospital," Gertgen says. "Knowing that it's built, it's not only offers the best doctors, but the whole environment's is a healing environment for kids. It feels great to contribute to that."