By Rev. Jessica Crane-Munoz

After almost 9 years and over 150,000 bottles, the Pill Bottle collection ministry at the Presbyterian Church of Vinton is coming to a close.

The program will wrap up at the end of March after successfully cleaning and processing 158,250 bottles over the course of many years. The program is ending due to the decreased need by the clinic.

“Circumstances have changed since the ministry program started. We have been thankful to be able to provide the bottles to the clinic, but the need simply no longer exists at the level it once did,” said Rev. Jessica Crane Munoz, pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Vinton.

A trio of dedicated core volunteers with occasional others have been processing bottles once a month for years. A morning’s work will yield them anywhere from 400-700 bottles that have been sorted, had labels removed, checked for cracks, and then cleaned for reuse at a free clinic in Cedar Rapids. The bottles are then stockpiled and delivered in large batches.

The free clinics in Cedar Rapids do continue to rely on free, reused pill bottles to cut down their costs. However, the bottles they receive currently outpace their need.

“When we started, the need was so great at that time,” said one volunteer. Now, she says, there hasn’t been that amount of need. Directly after the flood in 2008, the clinic was using bottles as soon as they came in the door and were sanitized. But currently the clinic has six months of bottles stored up.

“This is a good thing. So often we never see the culmination of a project like this and the need is ongoing. That the need has now been met is a blessing,” said Crane Munoz.

Bottles will be received now through the end of March. There will be one large cleaning event, and those bottles will be cleaned and stored until the clinic is in need of them. After March, people are encouraged to find other creative ways to reuse their pill bottles. Bottles dropped off at the church will go into recycling starting in April.

“The Vinton community has been amazing at supporting this ministry effort. We have received pill bottles from so many people who drop them off on a regular basis. We want to thank everyone who has done so,” said Crane Munoz.

When recycling in Vinton, any bottles that have a recycling number can go into household recycling bins. Caps are not recyclable and should be removed from the bottles and thrown into the trash.