Volunteers clear rusty shopping carts from swampy grave | VIDEO and PHOTOS

The Federal Way Shopping Cart Recovery Team volunteers take their mission seriously, all in the name of cleaning up the city and saving money for businesses.

On Friday, volunteers removed 23 carts from a muddy swamp at the end of South 305th Place, located off Pacific Highway South near Federal Way High School. The carts were obstructing a waterway that feeds into Steel Lake.

Volunteers extracted the carts from the swamp on a rainy Wednesday before removing them altogether two days later on Dec. 30. The property sits adjacent to an apartment complex and is privately owned, according to a city spokesman.

Dan Goede manned an all-terrain vehicle, pulling bunches of carts up an embankment. The weight of the load was heavy enough to make the quad's tires spin on the pavement. Rusty pieces broke off several carts as they were yanked uphill. Several carts sported logos from stores that left Federal Way years ago, such as Best and Payless Drug. Volunteers assumed the carts had been submerged in that swampy area for several years. (See slideshow)

cartThe team members go out in the community several days a week to pick up stray carts. They recovered more than 100 carts on Thanksgiving Day, and more than 400 abandoned shopping carts just in December.

Since the team formed in September 2010, more than 5,000 carts have been recovered and delivered to their respective stores. The work involves 1,200 volunteer hours. With a replacement value of $140 for each cart, the team estimates the savings for local businesses at more than $700,000.

"We really want to take pride in the city," said volunteer Mari Ikeda-Gomes, who tracks the team's efforts and statistics. "Some months, some of the stores have a higher number count, other months the numbers drop. I have a spreadsheet that tracks each and every store that we collect for."

The city's public works department will haul the load from Dec. 30. The carts will be sold for scrap at Calbag Company in Tacoma. The team has recycled about 3,000 pounds of scrap metal over the past year, generating roughly $350.

Volunteers for the team include Frank Gabreluk, John McLaren, Lottie Kinney, Dan Goede, Mari Ikeda-Gomes and Jonathan Gillies. To report an abandoned shopping cart, or to volunteer with the cart recovery team, contact (253) 835-6774.


Click here to see photos from the Dec. 30 cart recovery on South 305th Place in Federal Way.


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