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Collecting and donating used pill bottles is contagious.

Last January, Lions Club member John Kessler asked fellow club members if they would be interested in joining an effort to collect and clean used pill bottles to donate to medical clinics abroad.

At the Jan. 17, 2018, meeting of the Lions Club, Widner Regis, president and one of the founders of the not-for-profit Haitian Family Medical Relief Project, told the club members used but clean pill bottles can play a vital part in medical relief in Haiti and elsewhere.

One year and 36,000 pill bottles later, the collections continue. Community members drop off their used pill bottles  at boxes placed in local businesses, Lions Club members collect them, volunteers scrub the bottles and strip them of their labels, if that has not already been done, and club members pack the boxes for shipping.

Via UPS, the bottles travel to Matthew 25 ministries in Ohio, which ships them to various clinics in other countries where medicine may be available but the means of getting it to people’s homes is not.

In some places a person who is ill but lucky enough to see a doctor has two choices of how to get the medicine back home: wrapped in paper or placed directly into his or her diseased hand.  A clean, though used, hard plastic pill bottle protects and preserves the pills.

The pill-bottle drive has caught on among all ages here. Senior citizens and high-school teens have scraped, scrubbed and rinsed thousands of used pill bottles.

Residents of Three Crowns Park and The Mather have peeled labels and scrubbed bottles. Most recently, members of the Evanston Township High School Community Service Club took their turn at more than 3,000 bottles.

Mr. Kessler estimates the Evanston community has donated about 40,000 used pill bottles in just over a year.

“We’ve sent out 32,000 and I have about another 5,000 in my garage, waiting to go,” he said.

Getting the cleaned pill bottles to Ohio takes more than elbow grease; it requires money. While UPS offers a discount when multiple boxes are shipped, the Lions Club is also seeking monetary donations to help defray that cost.

Anyone wishing to learn more about where to drop off used but cleaned pill bottles or how to donate toward shipping costs may email Mr. Kessler at