Cantastic: Donations to El Dorado can drive supporting veterans to reach 10 tons

Chad Frey
Butler County Times Gazette
In 2013 Loren Anthony and the World War II museum put a cage in front of Ace Hardware in El Dorado to collect aluminum cans as a fund-raiser. The effort will cross the 10 ton barrier for cans collected next week.

In 2013  Loren Anthony and the World War II History Museum of El Dorado put a cage in front of Ace Hardware of El Dorado to collect aluminum cans — and Anthony set a big goal. 

The goal was to collect and sell 10 tons of aluminum cans. 

"To me, 10 tons is a staggering figure," Anthony said. "I am goal oriented. If you have something to look forward too, you will keep at it. If you don't have a goal, you don't know how good you are doing."

Anthony and the museum have been doing very well, and it would appear will meet that 10 ton goal sometime next week — likely the next load taken. 

"It is all up to the people, and how much they donate," Anthony said. 

He has permission to put out some collection barrels following Saturday's parade, aiding his effort to have a "big weekend."

"It's really about the impact you are making in the community," Anthony said. 

When there's a full load for him to take to the recyclers — which usually is about 150 pounds of cans — he empties the cage and heads over. Each load can generate up to $75 for the fundraising efforts, based on market prices. 

He's been paid anywhere from .15 a pound to .50 a pound. 

And all of that has added up — and made an impact. 

"We have paid for two honor flights," Anthony said. 

An honor flight  is a the trip of a lifetime for some veterans. Since 2012 the program has hosted veterans from each of Kansas' 105 counties. 

But for more than a year and half, there have not been any flights from Kansas to Washington, D.C. filled with veterans in red shirts. COVID-19 brought that to a halt. 

Flights have finally resumed. The cost of a flight is more than $800 — but no veteran who takes a flight is charged. Their flights are provided by fund-raising efforts like Anthony's.  

All those cans have added up, and continue to do so. 

"Some are in a sack with five or 10, others are in big bags and crushed," Anthony said. "It is a way for the community to recycle and to donate to veterans."

Funds from aluminum can sales have also assisted the World War II History Museum building fund. When the can drive began in 2013, the museum has already outgrown its space on West Central.

In 2015 the museum  added a new display to the front exhibit through donations by the community that included a full-size mannequin  which is displayed a WWII replica uniform from the 82nd Airbone on loan from Michael Kepley, who is a re-enactor in Wichita.

They also added a Marine Corps uniform from Harold Bise of El Dorado, who severed from 1942 to 1945. He purchased the uniform at Pearl Harbor. Bise served in many places including Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The can collection cage is located at Ace Hardware, 609 N Main St., El Dorado. It's not going anywhere, as Anthony is looking for a new milestone and continued funding for Honor F

The museum is located at 119 W. Central.