By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Seventeen years ago, Family Security Credit Union teamed up with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama to give the community a chance to have a safe way of disposing of their documents that would serve to lessen the possibility of identity theft. That event was held in the parking lot of the Family Security headquarters in Decatur, and a whole ten people showed up. As the event grew, it was moved to Calhoun Community College to give access to both Morgan and Limestone residents. In 2017, there was enough support to have a separate Shred Day in Athens and Decatur. Fast forward to September 30 of 2023, and for the third year, Shred Day will be held in the Athens State University parking lot from 9 a.m. until noon.
I spoke with Tricia Pruitt, who was part of that first Shred Day and is regional vice-president of the BBB in North Alabama. Sponsoring a Shred Day back then and continuing on with that free event annually is completely consistent with BBB’s mission, “to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.” And helping businesses, non-profits, and individual households protect themselves from fraud is right in their bailiwick. “People invest in us to protect the market place,” she said. Tricia also told me that the year after the first Shred Day, Family Security sponsored a seminar on ways to prevent fraud, and never has that need been greater.
“Shred Day is one of our favorite events, and people are so appreciative,” Tricia mentioned, and some of the reasons for that appreciation have to do with the fact that Shred Day is about way more than shredding. It is an important opportunity to safely dispose of medicines, and that part is handled by the Athens Police Department. “If you will bring non-liquid medicines, they will take care of getting rid of them in a way that keeps them out of the water supply,” she said. “You CANNOT bring needles to this event,” Tricia emphasized.
One more feature of this event is that there will be an opportunity to safely get rid of electronics. “TVs must be plasma or flat screen,” said Tricia. She also mentioned that most other small electronics under 50 lbs. will be accepted, nothing larger.
The trucks that are going to be used are commercial shred trucks that are computerized so that operators can be aware at all times as to what’s going on inside. “It is ok to have staples in documents or paper clips, but one year a large piece of metal was in a load, and it wrecked the truck. Also, we cannot take binders or three ring notebooks,” said Tricia.
The Athens High School JROTC will be on hand to help, so let’s talk a bit about “Shred Day etiquette.” “The first thing to remember is that your boxes or bags have to be something that can be lifted out of your automobile. If you were able to load them in by hand, then the volunteers will be able to get them back out. We can’t have something that takes three or four people to lift and process,” said Tricia. “Also, we are asking that people limit themselves to five bags or boxes,” she added. This restriction came about as a result of people in days gone by bringing trailers-full of paper to be shredded, so there understandably needed to have some restrictions in place. Here is how the morning usually goes. “In the early hours, there is often a line, but the volunteers move things quickly and we often take care of 250-400 people,” she added.
To access the event on September 30, you will enter the ASU parking lot on Hobbs Street in Athens, have your items processed in a quick and easy drive-through setup and then exit out of the parking lot on the Pryor Street side. “It should go pretty smoothly,” said Tricia.
Tricia smiled as she told me that people start calling about Shred Day beginning on January 2 each year. They ask, “Do you have a Shred Day on the calendar yet?” She is glad that because of sponsorships and community involvement there is indeed the 17th annual Shred Day just around the corner, and it is free to all. Sponsorships and partnerships are still available if you want your business to help other businesses, individuals, and non-profits be more secure. “One more thing,” Tricia said. “Shred Day keeps things out of the landfill, and taking care of the environment is always is a good thing.” See you on the September 30, and let’s get ready to shred!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner