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Group wins $15,000 in Elkhart County leaf raking competition

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Prizes have been awarded in the contest to reduce leaf burning in Elkhart County.

Groups competed to rake instead of burn in the unique competition.

The competition began in September of last year and ran through early December. Groups and organizations would rake leaves and take them to the landfill instead of burning them.

A total of $50,000 in prize money was available for competitors -- and the more leaves raked, the higher the prize.

“What this has done has encouraged people to talk to their neighbors, find a reason to go and visit and help them pick up their leaves, collect the leaves for their organization and then bring them to the landfill to be recycled hence cutting down on burning,” said Suzie Weirick, County Commissioner.

In all, 13 different teams took part in the friendly competition. A total of 217 tons of leaves were raked and collected, 20 percent more than last year.

The top team came from Central Christian Church. We profiled their efforts back in December.

They made 136 trips to the landfill, collecting more than 70 tons of leaves, winning more than $15,000!

It'll go towards getting a new air conditioning system for their church.

“We’re also a green church, so we are very concerned about the environment and we've done a lot of things like recycling and using, decreasing our use of paper products and things like that,” said pastor Doug Cripe, Central Christian Church.

The team from Prairie Camp collected over 39 tons of leaves, winning more than $8,500. Money that will go towards facilities for the camp and expenses for kids who attend.

“This project has been great for us, because we didn't have to burn leaves and we were able to come together,” said Ben Hahn, Prairie Camp. “We actually have 68 churches that own our camp.”

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The prize money for the competition came from tipping fees at the Elkhart County landfill.

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