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Pay it 4ward: Conway Man Turns Trash Into Cash

Chances are, the desk you sat in at school was made in a 1.5 million square foot building in Conway, and everything that comes out of it is Don Curran's responsibility.
Don Curran
Don Curran
CONWAY, AR - Chances are, the desk you sat in at school was made in a 1.5 million square foot building in Conway.

"We do something pretty unique in the furniture business."

Everything that goes out of it is Don Curran's responsibility.

"We have the capability to take anything back that we built over 65 years and recycle," explains Curran.

Facility manager at Virco, the largest school furniture manufacturer in the country, Curran is passionate about his product.

"For the first time, I think they're the most comfortable chairs we've ever built."

Virco chairs are made with recycled products.

"For instance say someone discards a swing set, or something like that. It could ultimately end up in the chair we build."

Recycling isn't just part Curran's job, it's his passion.

"We started it 1993 to send some kids to space camp."

With the backing of his company, Cash for Cardboard was born. Today the 36-year Virco veteran collects unused cardboard from every school in his county and nine businesses.

"We bring it back. We bail it. We recycle it, send it off to the recycler and we give them all their money back."

To date, Don's efforts have pumped $150,000 back into Faulkner County Schools.

Chick-fil-A and KARK awarded Curran with $250 in gift cards to The Green Corner Store, a business, like Virco, focused on eco-friendly merchandise.

"I don't accept things like this very well, because I just never have, but I do. I don't know what to say."

"We appreciate all you do for the community. It's programs like what you've done for 20 years that make Conway such a special place," says Conway Chick-fil-A operator Alan Kizer.

The surprise complete with a visit from the Chick-fil-A cow and a hug from his wife, who nominated him for the award.

"He works a lot of long hours and has put his heart and soul into it and he really enjoys it, that's the thing," Sherry Curran says.

Thanks to Don's efforts, a company is now virtually waste-free and a community's trash is going back into its classrooms, instead of the landfill.

"As long as I'm willing to keep it rolling I guess they're going to keep it rolling so I hope it's a long time. I hope they keep it rolling a long time after I'm gone."

Curran has been a member of the Arkansas Recycling Coalition Board of Directors for many years and also serves as Corporate Council Chairman. In 2012, ARC presented Don with the ARC's Distinguished Service Award, the highest honors ARC can bestow upon an individual.

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