“Return ‘em For Rieke” Bottle Collection Program Pays for Rieke Playground Improvements

[Posted November 13, 2020]


Tree planting work party on Saturday, November 7. The 5th grade class of 2020, represented at the work party by Charlie Williams and Isaac Light, helped pay for the cost of the tree.


The first of several new murals planned by the Rieke PTA.

The Rieke PTA has carried out significant upgrades and maintenance to the school playground over the past few years, thanks in large part to bottle return donations. The bottle return program, “Return ‘Em for Rieke”, has raised almost $20,000 since 2018.

Following significant improvements partially funded by donations from the community Rieke recreational spaces were designated the "Hillsdale Community Playground."

According to Rieke parent Adam Light, In 2017 the Rieke PTA Playground Committee took advantage of construction on the Rieke field (owned by the Portland parks department) to build a major expansion to the existing playground, raising $125,000 from parents and the broader community. In recognition of community contributions to the project, the upgraded facilities were subsequently designated as the “Hillsdale Community Playground.”


The bottle return program was established in 2018 to provide funding for ongoing maintenance and future improvements.


Light says that because more people stayed home due to the pandemic, "summer 2020 was our best three months ever, with 70% of revenues coming from the Blue Bag home pickups."


With two years’ and one unusual summer's worth of donations now in the bank, the playground committee is moving ahead with several big projects. The contractor who is paving the parking lot will resurface portions of the playground and put in a new sport court surface under the covered structure. Then, Rieke students will be able to help paint murals (similar to the one at the front of the school) and re-stripe the sport court. Plans are in the work for refurbishing picnic tables next year, and a master plan created in 2017 calls for construction of an outdoor stage and landscaping an area at the front of the school with native plants and a rock wall.

Collection bins at the front entrance to Rieke don't get much business these days. Since the pandemic began, most donations are made through the "Blue Bag" home collection program.

Return ‘em for Rieke accepts all redeemable glass, plastic, and aluminum containers. To support playground improvements, drop containers in the collection bins outside the school entrance, or e-mail playground@riekepta.org to receive a blue bottle drop bag at your home. When it’s full, contact volunteers pick for up or take them to the self-service drop location at the Burlingame Fred Meyer or any Bottle Drop location. It’s not necessary to go inside, just scan the tag on the blue bag and drop it inside. Bottle Drop will provide a 20% bonus on all cans and bottles returned for Rieke between November 15 and December 1.