By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore residents with attics, closets and storerooms full of old documents now have more room for other things.
Despite a last-minute postponement from Thanksgiving weekend, locals turned out in force for a Saturday, December 3, event that reportedly marked the city’s first-ever document-shredding effort.
Shred-it, a Birmingham-based document shredder, brought a truck to Atmore and its driver, Edward Garcia, stayed busy most of the morning, helping to box bank statements, tax forms, bills and other paper items for some residents, then feeding the documents into the truck’s shredder.
“Community Shred-it Day was a success,” said Anne Powell, president of Atmore urban Development, the local non-profit which sponsored the event. “People were coming in one after another. They brought, on average, 1-to-10 bags or boxes of old documents.”
The free event allowed any resident to bring an unlimited number of documents for safe destruction.
“When some folks learned there was no limit to the amounts that could be shredded, they made several return trips to the shredding site,” Powell said. “One local business made four trips to the site with small crates full of inactive files they had held onto for many years.”
Many had feared that taking the documents to the local recycling center would leave their personal financial and other information open to possible scrutiny by identity thieves.
Robert and Barbara Whatley were among those who made return trips.
“I think it’s neat, awesome,” said Robert Whatley. “The plus side is, we’ve been sitting on some of this paperwork for 10 years, not knowing where to take it and afraid to put it in the trash. We’re able to bring it here, watch him (Garcia) put it in there, watch it chew the paper up, knowing it’s safe.”
Janice Ware, an AUD member, said a local woman told her a similar story.
“She said she was so glad to have this come to Atmore,” Ware said. “She said she’s been waiting and waiting, hoping somebody would do this here so she could get rid of her old papers.”
The reactions of most who took advantage of the offer led Powell and the group to consider making it a regular event, or possibly expanding its scope.
“Some patrons wanted to know if we would repeat this event again next year, and we’re thinking about that,” she said. “Some suggested that next time, we might want to deal with destroying outdated electronics.”
AUD, which is dedicated to establishing affordable housing, didn’t make any money on the event, but neither did the group have to pay anything, thanks to the sponsorship of three local businesses — Gulf Winds Credit Unión, We Are Family Home Care and Creek Clean LLC.
Garcia said Shred-it sells the shredded paper to large paper manufacturers, like International Paper, for recycling.