Massachusetts man raises $100,000 _ a nickel at a time
HULL, Mass. (AP) — Joe Elisii, 86, is just a matter of days away from hitting the $100,000 fundraiser mark for the Hull Lions Club — and he did it one nickel at a time.
Longtime Hull residents may remember when the town’s Lions Club ran a handful of can and bottle collection sites across town. Before 2005, the collection was run by a smattering of Lions Club volunteers, but for the past 13 years it has all been done by one man: Elisii.
“It was always hard to get people to sign up so I said ‘forget it — I’ll do it,’” Elissi said, laughing. “I have the time and the energy to do it. It keeps me busy. Otherwise, what would I do?”
Elisii not only visits the collection bins scattered around town multiple times a week, but he has also become a staple in Hull: people bring their recyclables to his home and he’ll even make house calls to people who need help. From there he brings the drink containers home, washes them out and piles them all in the back of his old pick-up truck, bound weekly for the redemption center in Cohasset.
“That’s what dad does. He’s famous,” his daughter Marguerite Elissi-Johnson said.
He can fit hundreds of containers in the back of the truck at a time and has the process boiled down to a science: the bed is lined with empty beer boxes that each hold 24 glass bottles, and those are covered up with hundreds of plastic bottles and cans he puts in redemption-center-provided bags.
Elissi said he can make up to $150 per load in the summer months, and he is just teetering on the edge of 2 million total bottles and cans recycled.
“I’ve got $260 more to go (to reach $100,000), so sometime in the next 10 days I’ll hit that,” he said. “One time I think I said ‘when I reach $100,000 I’ll stop,’ but I’m not going to quit. As long as I’m physically able, I’ll keep doing it.”
The money he raises for the club goes to support the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund, provides funds for three different Boston-area schools for the blind and helps put on the annual turkey dinner that feeds more than 200 seniors. Elisii’s passion even inspired two scholarships in his name, given annually to high school seniors.
“He’s an amazing individual and he’s totally dedicated to this,” Lions Club President Paul Varney said.
Elisii said he got a kick out of it when a fellow regular at his local coffee shop told him her daughter had just won his scholarship, but that otherwise he is unfazed by his small-town fame.
“I don’t like all the attention,” he said. “I just like doing my thing.”
While attention may not be his style, his efforts are far from unnoticed by the town and his fellow club members. A ceremony to dedicate a bench to him near the Point Allerton Coast Guard Station was scheduled for Thursday.
“I think it’s an amazing accomplishment to be able to go out each and every day and show that passion for an amazing organization,” State Sen. Patrick O’Connor said. “Not to mention the quantity of the cans; that goes to show complete dedication and it’s people like that who turn towns into communities.”
Information from: The (Quincy, Mass.) Patriot Ledger, http://www.patriotledger.com