I’ve never had the personality for collecting things. When other kids got into stamps or rare coins, I realized I just didn’t have the patience for it. I also realized my aversion to anything resembling clutter means I don’t want stuff sitting around doing nothing.
But I’m proud to say the chamber does collect things, and we collect things you may not want anymore.
For years, we’ve collected old eyeglasses for the Lions Club, which refurbishes and reuses not only the frames but some of the lenses. It doesn’t matter if they’re purple, bifocal, tinted or some style from the 1970s. The club takes them to Lenscrafters in Brandon to salvage and recycles more than 6,000 pairs of glasses in one year.
We also help out SALT, Seniors and Law Enforcement, which collects old cell phones. You know, the old models that only make phone calls. Believe it or not, there’s a market for them, and SALT sells them to raise money for Vials of Life. If you’re not familiar with those, the vials house very important pieces of paper containing the medications and important medical information of senior residents in the home. The vial is kept in the freezer where the SCC Emergency Squad or Hillsborough County Fire & Rescue can easily find it. This way, if a senior lives or is alone and unconscious, first responders can find the vial and make sure they take the appropriate action based on the senior’s medical information.
In conjunction with the South Shore Felines and the Cat Fancier’s Club of SCC, we also collect cat food. We have a huge population of feral cats in this area, and there are several groups that make sure they are fed. They also round them up, have them sterilized and returned to the woods in an attempt to keep the population from expanding.
Likewise, we’ve partnered with the SCC Security Patrol to collect food for our local food banks. Every week, folks drop off nonperishable food items. The amount usually increases the end of April when our snowbird friends fly north for the summer.
Most recently, we’ve signed on to assist the SCC Men’s Club with collecting old hearing aids. When someone needs an upgrade or passes away, those expensive appliances often get tossed into the trash. Most of them can be reprogrammed and all of them can be re-purposed in some way.
It’s that time of year when we clean like crazy and get rid of all the junk we accumulate over the winter. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so if you come across Uncle Ralph’s old hearing aid or your neighbor’s old glasses, bring them to us. And when you upgrade to a phone that’s smarter than you are, don’t use the old one for a paperweight. Bring it to us so we can put it to good use.
I guess collecting things can be worthwhile after all.
Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.