Adults typically dominate Newport Beach City Council meetings, but on Tuesday night a well-spoken 10-year-old entrepreneur captured attention with his passion for helping the community.
Vanis Buckholz, a fourth-grade student at Harbor View Elementary School in Corona del Mar, is the president of My ReCycler, a business he developed at age 7 after learning about Earth Day. On Tuesday, Vanis stood before the City Council and explained how his recycling enterprise helps generate money for homeless families.
"I started at home recycling glass, plastic, aluminum and paper, and then I started collecting recyclables from my friends and neighbors," Vanis said. "As my business grew, my parents said I should do more than just help the environment and taught me about charities."
Vanis took a liking to Project Hope Alliance, which works to end homelessness in Orange County, and now donates a portion of his earnings to the nonprofit.
“With the money I make from recycling, I give 25 percent to Project Hope, 25 percent is used to run by business and the rest I have to save,” Vanis said.
It's his commitment to hard work and helping others that makes Vanis's parents very proud.
"He's done more in his 10 years than I have in my 50," said Dave Buckholz, Vanis's dad.
To boost his work, Vanis and his parents printed up business cards, which Vanis drew a picture for, and passed them out to local merchants. Today his clientele includes the OASIS Senior Center, Newport Coast Community Center and the Corona del Mar post office, as well as several other local businesses.
"I ride my bike and trailer to my customers in town and my parents drive me to the far ones," Vanis said.
At each stop, he collects bottles and other recyclables, then cashes them in by taking a full truckload every few weeks to O.C. Recycling in Santa Ana. He said he earns up to $200 per truckload and is always on the lookout for more recyclables.
“If you see me around town doing my job, feel free to toss your water bottle into my trailer,” Vanis said.
Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry applauded Vanis' efforts, and said his future seems bright.
"Newport Beach is the home of some great entrepreneurs. The one tonight is particularly young, but I think is a very outstanding entrepreneur," he said.
To learn more about My ReCycler, visit myrecycler.org.