Plastic caps and lids transformed into benches for Veterans Home

Published 3:17 pm Saturday, May 6, 2023

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RESERVE — Seventeen new benches made from more than 3,400 pounds of plastic caps and lids will now provide space for rest and reflection at each of Louisiana’s five veterans homes.

Members of the Louisiana Society Daughters of the American Revolution unveiled three of the benches last week during a dedication ceremony at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve.

The cap and lid collection was a nine-month effort that saw participation from the Bayou Lafourche, Francois deLery, New Orleans, Oliver Pollock, Spirit of ’76, St. Tammany and Vieux Carre’ chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution Southeast District.

With the approval of State Regent Cheryl Gott, the project kicked off at last year’s summer workshop and promptly collected 175 pounds. Enthusiasm for the project spread like wildfire through schools, churches, nursing homes and exercise groups. Some were even collected from workers on an offshore oil rig.

By November, collections weighed in at 753 pounds, and the Daughters were assured they were well on their way to reaching their 1,000 pound goal. The chapters had far superseded the goal by the time the March meeting rolled around with a whopping 3,410 pounds, enough to place three benches at each of the veterans homes across the state.

With the donation of a 16-foot Penske truck, the plastic was transported to a recycling facility in Evansville, Indiana in April.

LSDAR Chairlady Margaret Tyler said it was an easy project for the chapters to get involved in, yet it also showed how small contributions can come together for a meaningful impact.

“It was service in seconds,” Tyler said. “There was one story that was particularly poignant. A member called from her nursing home, and she hasn’t been able to participate in any activities, but when she heard about collecting caps and lids, she was all in. It was the first time that lady had felt like she was part of her chapter’s activities in many, many years.”

According to Tyler, the cap and lid collection was also a great conversation starter that allowed others to learn more about the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Since 1890, the organization has promoted patriotism, historic preservation and education in an ever-changing world. The Louisiana Society has nearly 3,000 members across the state and upholds the founding principles of the organization by offering scholarships and organizing service projects to support active duty military and veterans.

“The response of this project has been so positive and so inspiring,” Tyler said. “Many people who had no idea what DAR was even about are now aware of our wonderful projects.”

Brian Fremin, administrator of the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home, said the benches will be something staff and residents can share conversations about for years to come.

Special thanks were given to Bert Menge for assembling and transporting benches, Debra Bridgeman for transporting a bench, and Patty Hoppe and Elena White for their donation to the Veterans Home in Reserve.

The dedication ceremony also included greetings from LSDAR Southeast District Director Mary Ellen Menge and Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service Deputy Martha Bauman.