In a previous blog post I described how my son David recycles empty soda cans for cash as part of his CBDS (Community-Based Day Support Program) routine. David donates the cash to a local charity. His weekly visits to the charity present a new opportunity to connect with the community.
During my search for a charity, one of David’s respite caregivers mentioned that some children in her elementary school couldn’t afford basic school supplies. I asked if David could create a petty cash fund for the students. If it worked out, David could help the students in need, make new friends at the school, and maybe even say hello to his caregiver. It seemed great, but there were obstacles.
At first, a school staff member planned to meet David at the door when he arrived with his cash donation. But sometimes they missed each other and David was locked out. I worked with the school to arrange a new plan: David would arrive at a different door, one with a doorbell and remote access. Another unanticipated problem was that the school closes for seasonal vacations. I worked with the day program director to create a backup plan: on school vacation days David spends more time recycling and the day program director keeps the money for the next week’s donation.
David processes thirty cans in one session at the redemption center. At 5¢ per can, he collects $1.50/week for his charity. How often should David bring this small amount of cash to his charity — the elementary school? At first, David brought his donation to the school once a month. However, it was easier for the Community Based Day Program to have a set, weekly routine, as they need to schedule a van for transportation. After consulting with the school, we decided that David should deliver the money, whatever the amount, to the school each week.
It turns out that other individuals at the CBDS enjoy recycling too. A peer now recycles cans alongside of David. This friend can recycle at a faster rate than David; when they work together, they generate $6 – $10 each week, which is a bonus for everyone.
By Helene Power