Office Volunteer: Paper Shredding

My 29-year-old son David, who is deafblind and non-verbal, attends a Community-Based Day Supports Program (CBDS).  David’s daily schedule at the CBDS includes a variety of volunteer and recreational activities. 

David learned to feed paper into a shredder as part of his vocational training program at Perkins.  David enjoys the vibrations of the shredder and the sensation of paper as it disappears into the machine.  I thought it would be terrific if David could use this skill in his adult day program.  I searched for community partners to create a meaningful day based on paper shredding.

A place to shred paper  

A young man feels the shredder while holding a piece of paper.

While in a conversation with the director of the New England Consortium for Deafblind Training (NEC), I asked if my son David could shred their discarded office paper.  The staff knew David from his time at Perkins.  The organization’s director gave David permission to be an office volunteer.

To create David’s work area at NEC, I needed to find a shredder.  I evaluated several shredders at an office supply store and decided on a Fellowes 79ci shredder because it had easy-to-use on/off buttons and a comfortable feed slot height. With NEC’s help, I arranged a workstation for David at their office. We decided where to place the shredder and where David would sit.  We found a tray to store the discarded office paper, a table on which to place the tray, and a place to store the spare collection bags.  I consulted with NEC staff and the CBDS to identify the best day and time for David to be an office volunteer.

A home for shredded paper 

A young man shreds paper independently.

What should David do with his bags of shredded paper?  I inquired at several pet stores and animal shelters; I asked if they would want shredded paper for their animal cages.  Most weren’t interested. However, when I inquired at Drumlin Farm, an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary, they were eager to have the shredded paper to use as bedding for their woodchucks.  I visited the Farm and introduced myself to the staff.  We decided that David could deliver his shredded paper once a week.  We discussed how much paper would be the right amount for their needs. They were eager to meet David and grateful for the free paper. 

It would be terrific if David could deliver the paper directly to the animal pens.  But in an effort to start out with a simple delivery, David hands over his bag of shredded paper to the staff at the Drumlin Farm entrance.

The office volunteer/paper delivery day keeps David out in the community, engaged in a meaningful activity. There’s a purpose to David’s paper shredding.

Collage of paper shredding

Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.