Summit, Portage firefighters looking for aluminum cans

Jeff Saunders
Kent Weeklies
The Tallmadge Fire department was one of a number of area departments that Aluminum Cans for Burned Children presented gaiters, face and neck coverings, to in appreciation for serving as a drop-off location for can donations.

People in Summit, Portage, Stark and Medina counties can get rid of their empty aluminum cans while helping children and adults who have suffered burn injuries, just by making a trip to a local fire station.

A number of area fire departments have been for years drop-off points for people to leave aluminum cans for Aluminum Cans for Burned Children, an organization affiliated with, but independent of, Akron Children’s Hospital.

Streetsboro firefighters Jared Owen, left, and Tony Yash show off gaiters the fire department received from Aluminum Cans for Burned Children as an appreciation for serving as a drop-off location for cans.

“We work locally with a recycler,” said Mark Harper, assistant treasurer for ACBC and a retired Akron firefighter.

Harper added, “The money goes 100% to the survivors treated locally at Akron Children’s burn center.”

And ACBC recently showed its appreciation by giving gaiters – face and neck coverings – to participating departments. Area fire departments say they believe they received enough gaiters for each department employee to receive at least one.

“It’s an outstanding program, a great cause,” said Cuyahoga Falls deputy Fire Chief Chris Martin. “We’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve been with the department, which is more than 20 years.”

Ravenna Fire Lt. Chris Singleton, left, and Firefighter Ryan Leifheit wear two of the gaiters that Aluminum Cans for Burned Children gave to the department to show its appreciation for it serving as a drop-off location for can donations.

Stow Fire Chief Mark Stone said the gaiters are comfortable for wearing around the station.

“These gaiters are not used on any EMS calls or other emergency response since they do not provide the same level of protection as our N95 masks,” he said.

ACBC provides a wide variety of help to burn survivors and families.

“Aluminum Cans for Burned Children (ACBC) raises money to help burn survivors and their families by funding educational and support programs, and paying for non-medical items or services that aren't covered by insurance,” says ACBC’s website. “These include special protective clothing that helps skin heal, bicycles that help children exercise burned arms or legs, transportation to outpatient treatment for needy families, and more.”

Stow Fire Capt. Michael Griffen wears one of the gaiters the department received from Aluminum Cans for Burned Children as a show of appreciation for the department providing a drop-off location for can donations.

Jane Poundstone, the Ravenna Fire Department’s part-time secretary, manages the can collection for the department.

“As far as the program goes, it’s phenomenal,” but it is not one that gets enough attention.

“I would love to get so many cans that we have to call [the recycler] on a monthly basis and have them come and pick up,” she said. “We used to have three bins out there. There’s two now because they stack two of them together. They weren’t getting filled up and were just taking up space.”

Stone said the department has seen good results at its collection point behind Station 2 off Hudson Drive.

“We seem to be always full up there,” he said. “We have a good outpouring from the community, I think, on that.”

Mark Harper, left, assistant treasurer with Aluminum Cans for Burned Children in Akron and a retired Akron firefighter, recently presented face and neck covers called gaiters to area fired departments that have served as drop-off locations for aluminum can donations. At right is Cuyahoga Falls Fire Lt. Tom Carano.

Streetsboro Fire Capt. Kevin Grimm said the department had to remove its bin from behind its Route 43 station in late August due to construction of a new station next to it, but is expecting to start collections again, it is hoped, next summer.

“It’s a great way for people to get rid of their aluminum cans and help a very worthy cause and, of course, because we’re a fire department, we’re very happy to help with that program.”

Tallmadge Fire Chief Michael Passarelli said the department collects cans behind Station 1 off West Overdale Drive in an area recently enclosed with fencing by local Boy Scout Nicholas Wengerd as his recent Eagle Scout project.

“I think it’s a great program and it’s definitely for a great cause and it also, quite frankly, recycles and that’s a good thing,” said Passarelli.

Harper said the organization’s name is a bit of a misnomer.

“I know the name of the program is Aluminum cans for Burned Children, but because the hospital burn center we support also treats adults, we make sure we do things for adults also,” he said.

He said other areas that ACBC helps is providing summer camps for children, an adult conference for survivors, families and caregivers, and weekend retreats for adult survivors.

“It’s really hard for adults sometimes to get back out into public after they have burn injuries, especially if they’re visible like on their hands or on their face,” he said. “So by seeing other burn survivors, they can see it’s OK to continue on with your life and don’t let this incident stop you from doing what you were put on this planet to do.”

Besides taking aluminum to the drop-off points, donors can also take aluminum directly to the recycler, Metalico Anaco, at 943 Hazel Street. Harper said the advantage of this is that other forms of aluminum besides cans, such as siding, can also be donated to help ACBC.

“People can say this is for ACBC and they’ll add it into whatever they take in that month and then they’ll send the check to us,” he said. “The person gets the receipt.”

Harper said although aluminum cans are ACBC’s primary source of revenue, there have sometimes been other fundraisers, such as reverse raffles, a bowling night typically in April, car shows, a poker run and donations of money by individuals and businesses. Organizations and even burn survivors themselves have hosted fundraisers, said Harper.

Cans need to be left at drop-off locations in trash bags. Area fire department drop-off locations include:

• Cuyahoga Falls, behind Station 2, 2121 High Street.

• Hudson, Ace Hardware parking lot, 5824 Darrow Road.

• Kent, 418 North Mantua Street.

• Macedonia, 9691 Valley View Road.

• Munroe Falls, 43 Munroe Falls Avenue.

• Northfield Center fire station (operated by the Macedonia Fire Department), 60 West Aurora Road.

• Ravenna, 214 South Park Way (between the rear police and fire department doors).

• Stow, behind Station 2, 4199 Hudson Drive.

• Streetsboro, 9184 State Route 43 (not currently accepting donations due to construction).

• Tallmadge, behind Station 1, 85 West Overdale Drive.

Go to https://www.akronchildrens.org/ACBC for more information about Aluminum Cans for Burned Children, including a more complete list of drop-off sites in Summit, Portage and Stark counties.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.