An Islip student spearheaded an effort to turn trash into cash to help people who need water and food.

Madelyn Marinelli, a fifth-grader at Commack Road Elementary School, worked to collect more than 1,000 used Entenmann's Little Bites pouches. The pouches then were shipped to TerraCycle, a New Jersey company that repurposes difficult-to-recycle materials into affordable products such as toys and benches.

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For every pouch received, TerraCycle issues two points that can be redeemed for a series of charity gifts on the company's website or a payment of one cent per point to a charity of the student's choice. The minimum number of pouches the company will accept is 170.

After only six weeks, Madelyn has funded the equivalent of clean drinking water for 149 people through the nonprofit Charity: Water, and meals for 36 people through the nonprofit Feed America.

"If we all help, we can provide so many people in America and around the world with food and clean drinking water," Madelyn said.

The district's Islip Middle School and Maud S. Sherwood Elementary School also have contributed used pouches to the cause.

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The program will continue until June, district officials said.