Convenience combined with the contributions that go for charitable purposes have made the Chemainus Rotary Club’s community bottle drop a project with so many benefits.
It’s been going every Saturday, with only a few exceptions, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. since May of 2020 at the Rotary Club’s bunker across from Subway on Chemainus Road.
“I had the idea for over a year of doing this here,” said Rotary club member Derek Hardacker. “January of last year I’m going to take it to the club and see if we can do something.
“I thought if we could get $200 or $300 a week, it would be worthwhile.”
The bottom line is it’s doing a lot more than that, with the onset of COVID making it a service people were happy to support.
“Nobody was taking any refundables back so I thought maybe this is our opportunity,” said Hardacker.
And so it went ahead as a pilot project and has been going strong ever since.
“We had almost $3,000 in the first week,” recalled Rotary club member Shannon Bellamy.
“We could hardly fit it in the building and this is a four-hour day,” noted Hardacker.
“We were swamped,” added Rotarian Tom Andrews.
It hasn’t been like that every week, of course, but on a consistent basis the bottle drop has drawn a steady flow of people bringing in their aluminum, plastic, drink box, gable top, glass, bi-metal, pouch, bag-in-a-box, liquor plastic and liquor glass containers for the cause.
Consultations with the folks at the Return-It Depot in Duncan about how to properly sort and handle all the items turned the operation into a well-oiled machine.
“Week by week, we made changes to have a good flow of the stuff,” said Hardacker.
“We have to give big kudos to the Return-It people,” noted Bellamy. “They’ve been so good to us.”
Return-It picks up each week’s huge haul Wednesday afternoons after the sorting is done.
The bunker wasn’t exactly designed for this type of function, but was reorganized last fall for a better flow.
“Since then, it’s carried on,” said Hardacker. “Most members of our club are working one shift a month.
“It’s turned into a community service. People can’t thank us enough for what we’re doing.”
“Everyone is appreciative with a smile on their face,” observed Bellamy.
“It’s a drive-through,” Andrews indicated. “They don’t have to go to the bottle depot and do their own sorting.”
The first 12 months from May 2020 to May 2021 brought in $50,000, with only two closure days on Boxing Day and due to snow in January. There are two closures coming up, with Christmas and New Year’s Day both falling on Saturday this year.
The proceeds from the first Saturday of each month have been split 50-50 with Nourish Cowichan that now includes the Starfish program under its umbrella that provides food for hungry children on the weekends. Pick-ups are also available on the first Saturdays of the month.
“Let us know and we’ll pick up at their place,” Andrews pointed out.
Rotary supports an abundance of organizations and projects such as the spectacular new picnic shelter at Kin Beach, the boat launch, refurbishing the bandshell and the information kiosk at Waterwheel Park and it’s committed to funding for the outdoor showers at Kin Park.
The next step, Hardacker indicated, is to open it up for other organizations wanting to raise money to work at the bottle drop. An email can be sent to him at email@example.com and then an application will be sent.
“From that, we would pick one group one Saturday a month,” said Hardacker.
“What they have to do is supply us with two people on the Saturday for intake and two people on the Wednesday for sorting.
“For that, they would basically get all the money that day except we would keep a seven per cent administration fee. From that, my idea is now we have community involvement with people working at it and more people understanding what we’re doing.”
Opportunities will continue once a month until the end of Rotary’s year next June.
“Then I’ll make a decision whether we’re going to carry it on into the next year,” said Hardacker. “We have to budget for it.”