Pill bottle recscue program kicks off in the county

Jan. 7—Blake Vickers

The community will have a chance to recycle empty prescription pill bottles all year round thanks to a collaboration between several local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center.

Organizers say there are several rules that must be followed before bottles are dropped off due to the nature of the materials being sent.

For example, they must be empty prescription pill bottles — meaning they held only pills, not liquid medicine.

For privacy reasons, the labels on the bottles must be peeled off.

Bottles must be thoroughly cleaned, with no residue or traces of medicine remaining when they are donated.

While lids are needed for the program, they are not necessary, and lidless bottles will still be accepted.

The Battle of Richmond Visitors Center will serve as a drop-off zone for the bottles. Once collected at the visitors center, the bottles will be sent to Matthew 25 Ministries in Ohio. From there, the bottles will be once again cleaned or recycled before being reused to store medicine sent to developing countries or other areas in need.

"Medicine bottles are something that virtually everyone has. You use them and then you throw them away. Whether they're little or big, they wind up in the garbage because no one knows what to do with them," said Battle of Richmond Visitors Center Curator Phillip Seyfrit. "Thousands of these things are thrown away every day. This is another easy way that people can give back to their community."

The Boonesborough, Jemima Boone, and Laurel Ridges chapters of DAR are taking part in the event, which began several years ago when DAR started collecting pill bottles from members and others.

"Originally, it started with one of our former members, Joan Segler. She brought this to our group and asked if we were interested. One of our main objectives is working on conservation. That was originally how we got started with it — in order to help the environment by recycling pill bottles that had been thrown away," DAR Berea-Laurel Ridges Chapter Regent Mellisa Jennings explained.

DAR focuses on patriotism and community service — finding purpose in the preservation of historical buildings and sites like cemeteries.

To be a member of the group, you must be a descendant of a Revolutionary War Patriot. "Patriot" is defined by the organization as anyone who contributed to the war effort for American independence.

During a meeting between DAR and the Battle of Richmond, it was decided the visitors center would serve as a drop off point for people who do not know anyone in the DAR to collect the bottles.

"Matthew 25 Ministries uses the pill bottles to contain medical supplies for developing countries. If the bottles aren't able to be used for whatever reason, they are recycled. The program really helps with medical care, but also in caring for the environment... This was a great way to help so the empty pill bottles don't end up going into a landfill," Jennings said.

It is a collection that will run year-round. Alongside the pill bottles, several other items can also be dropped off at the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center on a consistent basis.

Damaged American flags and used eyeglasses can also be dropped off for proper disposal or reuse. The eyeglasses are sent to the Lion's Club for redistribution.

A flag retirement ceremony is being planned at Battlefield Park for April.

"It goes back to doing the right thing. People want to do the right thing, they just don't know how to do it or where to go to do it," Seyfrit said of all of initiatives at Battlefield Park.

Jennings echoed that sentiment, and noted how rewarding it is to take part in projects like the Pill Bottle Rescue.

"I love to give back to the community. My husband says I would give away everything I owned if I could. This ministry (Matthew 25) is so wonderful. It's taking something so simple that we don't even think about and helping others with it," Jennings said.

On Friday, the Laurel Ridges chapter of DAR brought in 562 bottles to donate to the program. Jennings praised Ruth Shaffer and Joan Keith, the co-chairs of the project.

"They (Shaffer and Keith) are truly the ones to collect and rinse out and dry them. They make sure those bottles are perfect before they turn them in. They do a wonderful job running this," Jennings said.