Algonquin man turns trash to cash for Turning Point

Lou Longo started the recycling program Recycle Aluminum – Renew a Life for Turning Point. Money received from recycling aluminum cans is donated to the domestic violence awareness agency.
Lou Longo started the recycling program Recycle Aluminum – Renew a Life for Turning Point. Money received from recycling aluminum cans is donated to the domestic violence awareness agency.

At the Light of Christ Church in Algonquin, Lou Longo, his wife, Laura, and fellow volunteer John Wright go through trash bins and sort out tin cans mixed with aluminum soda cans.

The aluminum containers can be recycled and are thrown into large trash bags. The full trash bags are then thrown into the back of the Longos’ SUV.

Lou Longo, a Walgreens pharmacist from Algonquin, has become a can collector as a way to help Turning Point by organizing a recycling program for the domestic violence agency.

He has 30-gallon bins set up at about 20 locations, where people are able to drop off soda cans. When the bins are full, Longo or other volunteers pick up the cans and bring them to the church. Longo then brings the cans to Days and Crawford Scrap Metal in Crystal Lake.

The recycling company buys the aluminum cans from Longo. The money goes to Turning Point.

Since the summer of 2012, the program has raised more than $1,000.

“He wanted a way to help Turning Point,” said Jane Farmer, the executive director at the domestic violence agency.

Longo started the project after spending a day with the Light of Christ men’s group doing spring cleaning at Turning Point.

His daughter Elizabeth, 13, was there and thought about the can collection at their house. She asked about collecting cans at home for Turning Point.

Longo then decided to collect cans on a bigger scale, he said.

He first started by putting 30-gallon collection bins at a handful of Walgreens locations.

Longo since has added the Lake in the Hills Police Department, Jacobs High School, Mastertek, Marshalls and Baxter Credit Union, among other locations.

Wright, along with a couple other volunteers, helps sort out cans at Jacobs, where he has to separate the aluminum from paper and plastic once a week.

“Most everyone that’s involved are familiar with the fact that this is going to support Turning Point, and ... it’s a way of serving,” Wright said.

Wright added money raised during 2014 is being matched by Thrivent Financial.

Longo brings cans to Days and Crawford every week or two.

“It’s becoming more and more often, because more people are donating,” Longo said.

He gets 55 to 56 cents per pound, and the program is averaging $50 to $80 a month.

Longo sees the cans as a way to help people.

“It doesn’t cost anyone anything. It’s just cans,” Longo said.

As Longo tries to add locations, he has to find businesses that don’t have contracts with garbage collection services to pick up recycling, he said. He even has business cards that he distributes at potential locations.

“If there’s a contract there, you’re not going to get that account,” Longo said.

He said crushed cans are better, because they take up less space. Longo suggested people wash out the cans so they don’t attract bugs, and that people use grocery store bags at home to collect cans.

The program’s goal is $100 a month. It is attainable if it gets a few more accounts, Longo said.

“It’s proliferating because more and more people at Light of Christ are bringing more cans,” Longo said. “What’s nice about this system is no one has to pay any money. It’s trash to cash, [and] not donated any cash, just donated cans.”

To learn more about the recycling program, contact Longo at longolou@comcast.net or 847-287-5919.

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