The Seacoast Women's Giving Circle was founded in April 2006 by a group of local women eager to use their skills and resources to address critical issues facing the Seacoast community.

In the News.

"Turn the Key. Be Idle Free"

Portsmouth, NH (September 16, 2008): Today, a group of area moms, all members of the Seacoast Women's Giving Circle, a local philanthropic volunteer organization, are launching "Turn the Key. Be Idle Free," a campaign to end unnecessary vehicle idling at Seacoast area schools. "When we learned that vehicle idling at our local schools was a health hazard for our children and a contributor to air pollution, we had to act," said Elisa Bolton and Christina Breen, leaders of the group's No Idling team. "Most people don't know that it is better to turn off your car and re-start it if your wait will be longer than 10 seconds."

The campaign encourages all seacoast drivers to be "idle free," but focuses on area schools since parents regularly idle their cars when waiting to drop off or pick up their children. Bob Lister, Portsmouth's Superintendent of Schools and an enthusiastic supporter, commented, "This campaign makes sense. It addresses our children's health and our environmental concerns." He encourages all parents to participate and spread the word.

Unnecessary idling is a leading source of toxic air pollution in New Hampshire and a contributor to increased health risk, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. One vehicle dropping off and picking up a child at school puts about three pounds of pollution into the air per month. Since New Hampshire has among the highest asthma rates in the country, air pollution from idling deserves even more urgent attention. Experts explain that air pollution can exacerbate asthma symptoms, already the most common chronic illness in children and the cause of most school absences.

As part of this campaign signs will be posted at participating local schools designating "Clean Air Zones" in parking lots and waiting areas. In addition, representatives from the Giving Circle will distribute bumper stickers and speak at local schools to share information about the No Idling campaign. The signs, stickers, and presentations are part of a combined effort between the Giving Circle, Portsmouth Sign Company, MicroArts, LLC, and local school leaders.

With today's high fuel prices, we all have an incentive to turn off our cars. Idling consumes from gallon to one gallon of fuel per hour, and uses more fuel than turning your engine on and off. "An idling vehicle gets 0 miles to the gallon," added Bolton "so you can save money at the pump just by turning off your car instead of idling."

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 15 states and dozens of local counties have laws that restrict the amount of time that a vehicle can idle its main engine and some, including Massachusetts, fine vehicle owners up to $100 for excessive idling.

Using resource materials from other successful anti-idling efforts, the Giving Circle piloted the No Idling campaign this past spring at four Seacoast schools: Rye Elementary, The Acorn School, Children's House Montessori and Seacoast Academy. Other participating schools include: Little Harbour, Dondero, New Franklin, Portsmouth Junior High, Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth Alternative School, Berwick Academy, Rye Junior High, Saint Patrick School, Rye Country Day, Maude H Trefethen School, and The Children's Garden.

Visit to learn more about the No Idling campaign.

Idling Facts

  • An idling vehicle is one whose engine is running when it is parked or not in motion.
  • It is more efficient to turn off most warmed-up vehicles than to idle for more than 10 seconds.
  • An idling vehicle gets the worst gas mileage possible 0 miles per gallon. As gas prices rise, turning off your vehicle is a quick and easy way to save money at the pump

What Can Seacoast Residents Do to Help?

  • Turn off your car the second you take to turn off your car is worth the savings to your health and wallet.
  • Don't use a remote starter these starters encourage excessive idling.
  • Drive to warm up if you must warm up your car, idle for only 10 seconds and then drive off.
  • Spread the word tell your friends and neighbors why it's important to "Be Idle Free" in school carpool lines and when waiting for the bridge or drive-through

To Learn More

The Seacoast Women's Giving Circle ( was founded in April 2006 by a group of local women eager to use their skills and resources to address critical issues facing the Seacoast community. Members contribute annually to a pooled fund and participate in volunteer service projects in the community. Over the course of the year, members educate themselves about community issues, identify a specific social cause on which to focus, and select one non-profit organization to receive the Giving Circle's annual gift.

Seacoast Women's Giving Circle
Anne Sudduth

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