Amy, Allie and David Steinmetz have been committed volunteers for the past seven years. Though Amy and Allie are only 16 and David is 12, they have co-authored a book entitled “Our Dad Died” and have established the “No Butts About It” Litter Campaign.
When the children lost their dad eight years ago, they were devastated. The books on grief were written by adults and reflected an adult point of view. In their small community, there were no other children with this type of loss to form a support group. They communicated their feelings and experiences in journals and after the tragic events of September 11th when everyone in the nation wanted to do something to help. They realized that their best contribution was to share their thoughts with the kids who had also lost a parent. They put together their journals and donated it to various charities for distribution to the children. The letters of praise they received motivated them to help other children who were feeling isolated and in need of support but who had not access to counseling services or another means of a communication outlet. Their book was published and they are donating a portion of their proceeds to Hospice to help create stronger children’s grief services.
In 1996 the Steinmetz children were doing a beach clean up and noticed the large amount of littered cigarette butts. Because of that, they started the litter campaign. Since then, they have reached many individuals or groups in 48 states and several countries. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the problems caused by cigarette butt litter, such as destructive fires, sickness in toddler who accidentally ingest littered butts, harm to animals and marine life and the harmful pollution effects, which are the highest form of litter in roadside and beach clean ups.
The “No Butts About It” campaign has motivated other efforts and has been used in the impetus for proposed legislation in Connecticut for three years by Senator Joseph Crisco. This campaign has also raised awareness of this often-unconscious habit. The youth spend many hours every week reaching out to different facets of society, asking that their posters with the slogan, “The Earth is Not Your Ashtray, No Butts About It” be hung in order to alert smokers of the effects of littered butts. They have been an example among their peers that children can make a difference. As a result of their efforts, Keep America Beautiful has now launched an initiative on this environmental hazard. The Steinmetz children have vowed to continue on their quest until the world is butt-free.
Both of these projects have had and will continue to have far-reaching impact. They will result in a cleaner environment for our global community and in helping grieving young children to be able to smile again.