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Rotary Club's new bottle drop supports New West community groups

Royal City Rotary: “We're hoping lots of people turn up, and we collect lots and lots of bottles.”
Royal City Rotary is launching a new bottle drop program to raise money for community groups in New West.

New West residents can now support local projects by donating their empty beverage containers to the Royal City Rotary Club.

Starting Jan. 6, Royal City Rotary is launching a weekly bottle drop that’s focused on raising funds for local sports teams and non-profit groups, as well as regional and national causes supported by Rotary.

Andrew Hull, who is coordinating Royal City Rotary’s bottle drop, said a friend of his started a weekly bottle drive in Parksville during COVID. As of October 2023, he said that Rotary program had raised a quarter of a million dollars.

“That’s a lot of bottles,” he said. “It's grown about 10 per cent a year. They get a lot of community support.”

After Royal City Rotary donated $10,000 to the Lower Mainland Purpose Society for children and family programming, Hull saw the positive impacts that funding had on local families.

“I was inspired to think: why can't we do a bottle drive here in New West, and do it on a weekly basis and see what we can raise,” he said.

The weekly bottle drops will be held on Saturdays (excluding long weekends) from 9 a.m. to noon. in the Royal Towers’ parkade. The parkade is located at 166 Sixth St. – across from New Westminster City Hall.

“We have lots of lots of very community-based charities in New West,” Hull told the Record. “We want to spread this around; we don't want it to specifically be for one group. The board of Royal City Rotary will make decisions on where the moneys are directed.”

Hull hopes there’s a groundswell of support for the initiative.

“Quite honestly, we are actually not sure as to how successful this will be. We haven't done it yet. This Saturday is the first Saturday,” he said. “So we're hoping lots of people turn up, and we collect lots and lots of bottles.”

Representatives from the Hyack Swim Club are set to volunteer at the Jan. 13 bottle drop and New Westminster and Burnaby Girl Guides are scheduled to attend the Jan. 20 event.

On weeks where sports teams or community groups provide volunteers for the bottle drop, they’ll get the proceeds of that day’s events. Otherwise, Royal City Rotary will raise funds for the many programs it supports.

“Rotary has a number of different international charities that they put money to, whether it's helping Ukraine or helping polio. There's lots of different things that Rotary supports, as well as locally,” Hull said. “If a group wants to get behind us for a week or a month, then they can get the proceeds of what we collect.”

Royal City Rotary has reached out to local sports teams and community groups to let them know about the new fundraising opportunity. It’s also spreading the word about the program to businesses and strata councils, so they can help support local organizations by donating their beverage containers, including cans, bottles and milk jugs.

According to Hull, some stratas and businesses pay to have someone take away their recyclable beverage containers, but the Royal City Rotary Club is willing to pick up their donations. One of the group’s members has a van and has offered to pick up recyclables on Saturday mornings.

Vintop Development is donating the use of covered space in the Royal Towers parkade for the bottle drop. The Sapperton Return-It depot is providing bins, collecting and counting the donated recyclables – and passing along the funds to Royal City Rotary so it can distribute the money to various groups and community projects.

“There's already a starting of a good community support,” Hull said. “We're hoping that this becomes a fixture in the community.”

Any community groups wanting more information or wishing to partner with Royal City Rotary on the bottle drop initiative can email [email protected]