ST. LOUIS – They have been at it for about 14 years. Volunteer members from the Mary Mother of the Church Chapter of St. Vincent de Paul have been recycling scrap metal since 2009. To date, their recycling efforts have raised about $194,000.

And the group has almost achieved a goal they could never have imagined at the start; they hope to reach their $200,000 goal by the end of the year. One hundred percent of the funds earned go directly to helping the poor.

Currently, our recycling earns about $1,500 a month, providing funds to aid those in need. “Summertime is busier for recycling,” says Dick Drury, coordinator of St. Vincent’s scrap metal program.

The recyclers had humble beginnings, according to Drury. A fellow Mary Mother of the Church parishioner, Dan Schoenekase, used his own truck to pick up old appliances, lawn mowers, heaters, patio tables, cabinets, and anything made of metal that was to be discarded.

“We’ve had pinball machines, we’ve had tanning booths, we’ve had prosthetic legs,” Drury said.

There are a few exclusions.

“Those no-nos are the tires and the TVs; those are two things that we cannot process.”

Dan is handy, and he carefully stripped metal from the items, saving all the metal before taking it to a local recycler. Volunteers routinely extract precious metals such as copper, brass, and aluminum from the donations. All the proceeds went to the Mary Mother’s SVdP conference, and thus began a unique stream of income to serve the poor.

After the recyclers had been operating for several years, another Mary Mother of the Church parishioner, Len Valentine, began helping. “Len has a pickup truck, a strong back, and an intense desire to help those less fortunate.” Now, the group even receives help and promotional assistance from surrounding parishes. Today, the group has 14 volunteers.

Drury says many unique items have been donated, such as a tanning bed, dental braces, a fire hydrant, prosthetic legs, a roadside lamp post, a trumpet, a pull-slot candy vending machine, a pinball machine, and a gold mining sluice box. 

The only metal items the recyclers do not accept are TVs and tires. Used, donated bikes are given to St. Louis BWorks, a nonprofit that accepts bicycle donations benefiting local children. Additionally, donated appliances that are still working are shared with other SVdP chapters that have neighbors in need of these items.

Recycling metals offers a range of benefits that encompass environmental protection, resource conservation, energy savings, and reduced waste generation. It plays a crucial role in moving towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible society. 

Another great benefit, Drury shares, is that “In addition to being an environmental steward, the service allows those making metal donation pickups the opportunity to visit with those in need of fellowship.”

Drury says donating your scrap beats the alternative.

“You don’t want to see it along the highways, the streets, the backyard, somebody’s garage,” Schoenekase said.

People can contribute to aiding the less fortunate by donating metal items. Drop off metal items for donations at 5833 Kerth Road, St. Louis, Missouri, 63128. Donors are encouraged to place metal donations next to the 12-foot trailer in the driveway at their convenience.

If individuals are unable to transport the metal themselves and reside in the South County area, they can call 314-374-4680 to coordinate a pickup arrangement.