LEAKEY, Texas – Keep it Real Beautiful (KIRB) will soon purchase its own recycling equipment and expand its outreach program, thanks to a $21,000 grant from the Bandera Electric Cooperative and the Lower Colorado River Authority.
The grant, along with $4,920 in matching funds from donors in the Frio Cañon community, will allow KIRB to make the recycling process in Leakey easier, more intuitive and more sustainable. The organization is dedicated to helping Real County become the cleanest and most beautiful in the state through awareness, education and action.
Since its establishment in 2015, KIRB has borrowed equipment for its recycling program from other organizations in its community. In its first five years, the recycling program processed approximately 220,000 pounds of recyclables, which has resulted in an estimated savings of 770,965 gallons of water and 451,565 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
“We are rebuilding the program with this grant,” said Kim McElhinney, a volunteer with KIRB. “Now we have the ability to purchase our own equipment and improve our branding and signage.”
The organization’s goals go beyond facts and figures though. It is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community through increased engagement.
“By taking care of our environment, we will all live healthier lives,” McElhinney said. “What we care about, the actions we take and the positive feelings we get from contributing are connected to our emotional and physical health. This is often overlooked in rural communities.”
Real County is home to nearly 3,500 residents, with about 2 million visitors a year drawn by the region’s parks and picturesque scenery.
“The natural beauty that exists here is extraordinary,” McElhinney said. “The Frio River, the cypress trees growing on its shoulder, the beautiful rolling hills – it is a picturesque landscape that people from all walks of life can enjoy.”
Through the grant, KIRB is looking forward to increasing its impact on not only those that live in the community, but those that visit as well.
“Keep it Real Beautiful aims to help people remember that the Frio River – and the entire canyon – is a resource for us all,” McElhinney said. “We improve the experience for all if each of us does our part. Packing out what you bring in is the most important rule. As traffic to the area grows, locals and visitors alike will have to take care to keep this destination pristine.”
The community grant is one of 27 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bandera Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January 2021. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.