It all started with a dad who wanted to keep his daughters busy this summer.

Sherman Chu, a professional photographer, decided that since Sydney, 8, and Emme, 7, weren't going to summer school, they should have a project to keep them busy. They've already collected a mountain of plastic bottles, along with numerous other recyclables, and converted them to cash for a special cause -- to raise money in memory of U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua "Chachi" Corral. Chachi, son of Arnie and Denise Corral, lost his life Nov. 18 during combat operations in Afghanistan.

Sydney and Emme are joined in their collection effort by family friends Ella Warburg, 12, and Honor Warburg, 7, daughters of Shannon and Paul Warburg, and Megan McCormac, 11, and Kaylan McCormac, 7, daughters of Suzie and Greg McCormac.

The recycling proceeds will be donated to the Semper Fi Foundation, formed a month after Chachi was killed in action, to meet the needs of severely wounded Marines and their families. It is a component fund of the Tri Valley Community Foundation.

"It was all about doing something productive for the summer," said Sherman. "It's a good learning experience for the kids. And whatever we can raise is a big bonus to help a Marine and his family."

Megan and Kaylan joined the Chu family in Danville's July Fourth parade, where they collected 10 42-gallon bags of water bottles

"I think it's pretty amazing that Sherman started all this," said Suzie. "Our whole neighborhood (near St. Timothy's Church off Diablo Road) is involved; we have bags and bags in our garage. I really commend Michelle (Sherman's wife) and Sherman. It's turned into even more than they expected."


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"The response in our Diablo neighborhood has been so wonderful," said Shannon. "Everyone says it's the least we can do. We have bags of bottles and cans lined up in our driveway that people have been dropping off."

The Warburgs have also been collecting recyclables at their daughters' swim meets. "There are literally thousands of bottles that just get thrown out," Shannon said. "It just takes a little effort. We set up containers with information about Semper Fi to raise awareness and we go around and empty the bags and reload the containers, and then we have to separate the garbage from the bottles. The girls have a great attitude and get it done for a good cause."

When I recycle, I've been carefully rinsing out bottles and screwing the cap back on them. Little did I know that, although most plastic caps are recyclable, they must be separated from bottles before both can be accepted for recycling.

"I get these random emails from parents whose kids save cans and bottles for vacations or Halloween decorations, and they want to donate for Chachi," Sherman said. "I take pictures with my girls of the people who drop bags off; it's a hands-on experience for them."

Thus far, the collection effort is up to nearly $250, with lots more yet to be converted to cash and another month left for additional collecting.

Sherman can be contacted at Sherman@shermanchu.com. Donations are welcome, and may also be given online at http://semperfifoundation.org/make-a-donation.

The Fallen Soldier Memorial, which honors Chachi, was dedicated June 23 at the Danville Veterans Hall, 400 Hartz Avenue. The sculpture features a rifle, topped by a helmet, nestled in combat boots.

Contact Georgia Lambert at arounddanville@yahoo.com.