Building a home from cans

Sally Cole
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Participants in the Five Cents Equals a Home campaign show a few of the recyclables that have been donated. From left are Donna-Marie MacLeod, Delta Prince Edward, Don Simeone, volunteer recyclable co-ordinator, and Mario Zambonin, Restore manager.

Five Cents Equals a Home campaign underway at Habitat for Humanity P.E.I.

To get involved in Habitat for Humanity P.E.I.'s Five Cents Equals a Home campaign, for information or to arrange pickup of pop cans and bottles, call 902-368-7539.

For some people, seeing a blue bag filled with pop cans means taking a walk to the curb.

For others, it’s simply a drive to the recyclers.

But for still others like Mario Zambonin, it means putting a roof over someone’s head. He’s involved in the Five Cents Equals a Home campaign, currently underway at Habitat For Humanity (HFH) P.E.I.

To date the volunteer program has raised $25,000 towards a build.

“It costs $75,000 to build a house. So we are one-third of the way there. Every person on P.E.I. is helping us reach our goal. Companies, as well, have come along side us,” says Zambonin, the Charlottetown Restore manager.

One of the first businesses to jump on board was the Delta Prince Edward.

“Recycling is a huge part of what we do at the hotel. So this was just another way for us to contribute,” says hotel sales manager Donna-Marie MacLeod.

“Nationally Delta Hotels is partnering with Habitat for Humanity. It’s our national charity of choice.”

At the hotel in downtown Charlottetown, the housekeeping team and the food and beverage outlets collect the recyclables, taking them to one particular location.

“We are happy to help. This is one way that we can help out on P.E.I. in addition to all the other things that we do,” says MacLeod.

Other companies partnering with HFH include Best Western Charlottetown, the Bookmark and Winners.

Whether it’s businesses donating their recyclables or people dropping off their empties, it’s all adding up for a good cause, says Zambonin.

“I know that Islanders are very generous with the different non-profits. And most Islanders recycle their cans and bottles anyway, so why not collect and build a house with them?” he says.

One person essential to the Five Cents Equals a Home campaign is Don Simeone. Two or three times a week the HFH volunteer picks up bottles and cans from the different locations and, with the donations from the Restore, takes them to the recycling depot.

“When we first started, we made maybe 40-50 dollars a week. Now it can be up to $100-150 dollars per week,” says Simeone, who has been donating his time for 10 years.

When HFH started this program three years ago, it needed someone who could collect, sort and deliver the bottles.

“So I got it by default. No, I wasn’t delegated. No one else wanted to do it,” says Simeone, with a laugh.

Watching the dollars rising in the campaign thermometer on the wall of the Charlottetown Restore pleases him.

“It’s amazing. When you figure that a new window is $250. Working a week and a half with bottles is like putting a new window in a house. It all adds up,” he says.

The campaign started after Zambonin heard about similar projects across the country.

“Years ago, there was a recycler in Ontario that was matching funds. At that time, P.E.I. wasn’t into cans and plastic bottles. But as soon as the can ban was lifted we saw an opportunity,” he says.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, the company in Ontario stopped matching grants.

“So, we thought, ‘let’s see what we can do here.’ Now we need every Islander to help us reach our goal. ”

Organizations: Habitat For Humanity, Delta Hotels

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, Ontario

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