Caps of Love is a success! You wouldn't think a seemingly meaningless bottle cap could make such a difference for someone in the community. But members of the Saint Leo University family are demonstrating how it can after a bunch of them pile up.

St. Leo's involvement in the Caps of Love program began a few years ago. It's a national, 501(c) nonprofit based in West Palm Beach. The group works with organizations to help collect plastic bottle caps and other plastics. It was originally founded in 2008. The proceeds raised from recycling these caps are then used to purchase wheelchairs for disabled children and young adults up to age 21. Plus, raising awareness about recycling and keeping plastics out of landfills are a big part of the effort as well.

From an Idea to an Overwhelming Success

Heidi D'Ambrosio is the senior coordinator of residence life at Saint Leo. She says she helped get the program off the ground on campus back in 2015. "I started collecting caps myself, and then others started pitching in and this just grew very quickly," D'Ambrosio explains. "I asked Sean Van Guilder (executive director of campus life) and Ken Posner (associate vice president of campus life) about it. They were both on board."

Along with plenty of student support and help from individuals, over 20 businesses also delivered caps during the recent collection cycle. The university raised over 15,000 caps. This number was 12,000 last year and 8,000 the year before that, demonstrating a growing interest in the philanthropic project.

"It has almost gotten too large for us to handle," she says.

On Thursday, March 21, the university held a send-off party for all of the caps donated, which were transported to Commercial Plastics Recycling in Tampa. Domino's Pizza donated 10 pizzas for the event, and participants wore shirts that read "Saint Leo Has Gone Cappin Crazy." The event also coincided with "Cappin Thursdays," which is a community service gathering held weekly on Thursday afternoons on campus throughout the school year.

It's All About Making a Difference

D'Ambrosio and her team plan to reach out to schools in Pasco and Hernando counties. They hope to determine if any students with disabilities in the area could benefit from a donation through the Caps of Love program.

Ultimately, she says the initiative has a few primary goals.

"If we can make a difference in the life of one person and educate our current generation on recycling, we know we're doing something right."