One year into its expanded effort to collect and recycle for-deposit cans and bottles, the Hood River Lions Club reports “outstanding” public contributions to its bright-yellow collection trailers at Hood River Supply and CenterPointe Community Bank.
“The response has far exceeded our dreams for this project,” says Project Co-Chair Leonard Wood. “Drop-offs are increasing monthly, and that’s creating a stream of revenue to support critical community needs.”
According to a media release, two years ago, the Hood River Lions mothballed its previous newspaper recycling project.
Instead, it shifted focus to creating 24/7 drop-off options for people to return their nickel-deposit cans and bottles.
That effort started in May 2015, with placement of the first collection trailer at Hood River Supply. A second trailer was situated at CenterPointe in December, greatly boosting donations.
In the first year of that effort, the club has generated receipts of $5,300. Expanded recycling and the scheduled increase in bottle deposits to 10 cents in April 2017 figure to greatly boost revenues to the club.
“These revenues are a direct result of community support for recycling,” says Wood. “The Lions allocates all revenues for support of community groups and projects.”
The primary beneficiary has been Opportunity Connections, which since the mid-1960s has provided training and work opportunities for people with disabilities.
During that first year, the Lions collected more than 117,000 containers. Club members donated nearly 100 hours of time, moving 58 trailers full of containers to Opportunity Connections on Thomsen Road south of Hood River. Opportunity Connections clients sort the containers for pickup by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC).
The Club uses its half of the receipts from can and bottle redemptions –- along with other revenues –- to support such key programs as sight and hearing screenings for school children throughout the valley ($5,525), student scholarships ($13,736), 4th of July activities ($2,543), and Families in the Park ($1,100).
“We do a lot of things for the community, but helping people identify and treat sight and hearing problems is our primary mission,” says Club President John Rust.
Rita Rathkey, executive director of Opportunity Connections, says she thinks the partnership with the Lions Club “has been wonderful.”
She says state and federal mandates are nudging the program to shut down its operations south of town and move closer to the Hood River community.
“What’s really changed in the last year is that we have to provide services in the community by 2018, or we can’t get Medicaid support,” Rathkey says.
Uncertainty around the future location of its services has cast doubt on whether the Lions and Opportunity Connections can continue working together. The Lions Club has been looking into other possible locations to collect, sort and store recycled containers until they can be hauled out of the area.
“We just want to thank everyone who has helped support the program by leaving deposit cans and bottles at our trailers,” says Project Co-Chair Greg Simpson.
“We’re really grateful to CenterPointe Community Bank for making space available to the west of the bank for people living closer in to downtown Hood River.”
Local residents also can drop off their cans and bottles the first Saturday of each month, when members of the Leos youth group collect donations at the south end of the Rosauers parking lot.