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Empties collection at Newmarket condo raises money for food bank

John Parkin has donated more than $5,000 in the last four years to the Newmarket Food Pantry, with the support of fellow residents

Four years ago, John Parkin noticed that most of the community living in his condo building on Bogart Mill Trail in Newmarket were recycling empty alcohol bottles and cans.

As the majority of the condo building’s residents are seniors, Parkin said many of them have a hard time returning empties to the Beer Store.

So he began collecting empties out of the recycling and returning them and putting the money toward the Newmarket Food Pantry.

Then he realized it would be a lot easier to have everyone put those empty bottles and cans in a separate bin in the building’s recycling room so that he could streamline the process and raise more money for charity.

After checking with the building to ensure it was OK, Parkin set up a bin to collect empties.

That was in 2020, and now every other day, Parkin comes down to the recycling room on the first floor and gathers the empties from the bin and sorts them and organizes them in a separate room in the building. 

Once a week, Parkin loads up his car with the empties and brings them to the Beer Store to return and when he’s away, Claudius Zujew, another tenant in the building, steps up to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Parkin says it raises about $80 to $100 per month and has brought in more than $5,000 over the four years since he has been running the initiative.

All the funds raised have gone toward the Newmarket Food Pantry with Parkin donating the money through CanadaHelps with it earmarked for the food bank.

Parkin said he hopes more condo and apartment buildings in the community start running a similar initiative because it’s an easy way to do good and everyone in his building thinks it’s a great idea.

“It’s not costing anyone anything,” he said. “You’re diverting it from waste, we’re collecting money for the food bank, and I get exercise.”

Parkin said that people who live in the building now go out of their way to pick up empty alcohol cans and bottles they see laying around in the community.

“They pick them up and bring them back here,” he said.

In 2022, Parkin was recognized by Newmarket-Aurora MP Tony Van Bynen with a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee pin and certificate for his work with the empties initiative.

“It would be great if more buildings would do this,” he said. “It’s a win-win.”