Leos Make a Difference One Plastic Bottle at a Time
By: Gracie Minton (student)
The sounds of pill bottles clattering and sliding across the table is heard in Clermont Northeastern High School as the Northeastern Leo Club keeps busy with their new service project. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school, the Leo Club sorts bags upon bags filled with pill bottles donated from the community for cleaning. Once the pill bottles are rid of their labels, washed, sorted, and packaged, they are donated to Matthew 25 Ministries to be shipped to disaster areas and third world locations with medical supplies. “We’ve been trying to make sure everyone in the club can have some sort of participation. Whether that means bringing in pill bottles, cleaning them up after school, or taking them home to wash them. We’ve been trying to get full participation from everyone in the club,” Leo President senior Kylie Hoerth states.
Once the pill bottles are in the hands of the members, they are laid on the table sorted based on whether they have any sticky residue or labels remaining on the bottles. If so, they are cleaned with Goo Gone then sent home with various members of Leo Club, teachers, and other students to be washed in soapy water. Once the bottles are matched with their respective caps, the Leos sort and package the bottles by size. When finished, they will be delivered to Matthew 25 Ministries to be used for medical missions. “Whenever there's some kind of big disaster or medical emergency, Matthew 25 Ministries will ship out these pill bottles with the other supplies so the medical professionals can have a way to distribute medication,” states the Advisor of the Northeastern Leos, Rhonda Campbell. Along with distributing the pill bottles, the organization will also shred and recycle any plastic to raise funds for their projects. The Leos plan on sending bags of bottles and lids that had no match for recycling.
Before the holidays, the Leos want to send out 500 or more bottles to Matthew 25 Ministries. What started as a small project that the Leo Club would partake in during the year, turned into a giant project that required the hands of many. With donations of pill bottles from the community, the club continues to clean relentlessly after school. Along with Leo members, there have been other students in the school who have helped clean. Many teachers have taken bags of pill bottles home to clean. A number of community members donated pill bottles to the club as well. Campbell said, “We haven’t gone out and asked anyone for bottles. We just fell into the project through a casual conversation one day, and word spread from there.” As the community keeps sending pill bottles, the Leos will continue to clean them. The Leos took on this gigantic project not only to help those in need and the environment, but because they will be submitting it as their state Leo project of the year. “Every year we participate in a state Leo Club project and wanted our project for this year to be big and beneficial. We attempted to work on the project last year but we didn’t really get it up and running until this year,” Hoerth said.
Sending this project to state will require a lot of time and effort, but also a full group participation. In attaining that goal, there are many different tasks that a member can do to participate. They can donate bottles, wash some at home, or just come one day after school to help clean.
“The big surprise for us was how labor-intensive it is to remove the labels!” claims Campbell. “We tried several methods and products before deciding Goo Gone was the most efficient.” While the pill bottles take a long time to clean, the members of the club are having fun as well. With music playing and sharing laughs the club has grown closer as members work together. “Spending time with the other Leo Club members has definitely brought us all together. Cleaning these pill bottles, yes, it takes hard work, but it’s also a good time. I think it’s good because it’s fun to clean them. Especially with all the Goo Gone, our hands get all sticky, and it’s fun to touch people with sticky hands," states Hoerth. Each day there is a different group of Leos staying after school to help out. One member who has been putting lots of time in the project is sophomore Madison Cruey. She’s been to a significant amount of cleanings, and believes, “It’s a cool project. You’re actually making a difference versus just cleaning up trash. With this it’s going somewhere and helping people, not just us or our community. That’s pretty cool.”