Despite hammering rain and gusty winds, area residents turned out in droves to rid themselves of unused, unwanted or outdated drugs.
They dropped them off at Community Hall during Operation Medicine Cabinet, an ongoing community service project coordinated by the Hillsborough Count Sheriff’s Office, with the help of Home Instead Senior Care. Most of the folks who turned out never left their cars.
Some dropped off a bottle or two from their medicine chests; others came with boxes or bagfuls. One woman handed over two years worth of expired drugs.
“I’m surprised by the amount we collected,” said new Sun City Center Community Resource Deputy Jason Castillo of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, who supervised the event for the first time. “But it’s a good thing, because all these drugs are not going back into the water supply after being flushed down (drains or) toilets or back onto the streets.”
There are other benefits, said Kristi Campbell of Home Instead Senior Care.
“It decreases medication errors because seniors can no longer mix up their drugs or use medications they no longer need,” she said. “It keeps these same drugs from getting in the hands of friends or relatives, especially teenagers, and helps protect our water supply.”
Residents like the idea.
“I think it’s a great service,” said Irene Ryan, dropping off some old meds. “I come almost every time they have one of these, unless I’m out of town. I like the convenience — and knowing the drugs will be safely disposed of.”
Collections are done in Sun City Center every year in the spring and fall and once annually at several other Hillsborough County sites, including John Knox Village in Tampa and Hawthorne Village in Brandon.
Every collection includes over-the-counter drugs, prescribed medications and, in some cases, controlled substances. Their handling is carefully monitored.
“We mark the drugs into evidence and follow the chain of custody,” Castillo said. “That’s the reason the deputies are here.”
As the drugs are brought in, they’re dropped into boxes, which are sealed and labeled by deputies, and then impounded at the District 2 office on Falkenburg Road until they’re taken to be incinerated.
Last year the two Sun City Center collections brought in 766 pounds of drugs. This latest effort filled 24 large boxes donated by Laura Miller of EZ Storage in Wimauma. The net weight was 582.75 pounds.
According to Campbell, about 10,000 pounds of drugs have been collected throughout Hillsborough County since the effort began in 2006.
To learn about the next event, call (813) 684-1972.