NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — In honor of Earth Day, people worldwide are practicing the importance of going green, but for Angelo Sarkees, helping keep our community clean and donating green, is something he’s been doing for over a decade.
“I just kept doing it a little bit and then it got bigger and then I started doing scrap metal and within a year, I was up to $15,000,” said Angelo Sarkees, Donor who created “Deposits 4 Food.”
Ten years ago, after retiring after working for the Environmental Conservation Department and Waste Water Business for 30 years, he started collecting bottles and cans laying around festivals.
He talked with Modern, who gave him containers to collect recyclables at the Lewiston Jazz Festival back in 2013, and it grew from there. He started collecting the recyclables with Modern at festivals, households and events–then cashing them in. He then donates those funds to local food pantries, including Community Mission and Heart, Love and Soul, helping feed our neighbors in need.
“It’s just incredible–how committed and compassionate he is for vulnerable people in our community that need assistance,” said Joseph Sbarbati, Agency Vice President of Community Mission of Niagara Frontier. “He’s definitely there to help with that.”
Over the years, Sarkees has collected more than a million empties, and donated more than $100,000. Every year, he donates twice to several local food pantries, during the holiday season and now on Earth Day, helping get the message of how important Earth Day is for our planet.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to really celebrate it and highlight how recycling can really make a difference in more ways than one,” said Joleigh Wylucki, who works in Special Projects for Modern. “It’s an easy way we can all make a difference in our own homes and our own communities, and it’s really simple.”
Sarkees remembers the first Earth Day celebration here in Buffalo, and says that Earth day has had a profound change.
“Out of Earth Day came the Clean Air Act, a bunch of other environmental laws and the environmental protection agency started because of Earth day and New York DEC started partially because of Earth Day,” said Sarkees.
However, he believes that the proposed deposit bill, should be put into place, helping the recycling business generate more income, due to the raise in minimum wage.
“That’s part of the problem, nothing has changed in that business, they added water bottles and didn’t really change. They didn’t raise the money or the amount of deposits or anything with the minimum wage going up–they’re being squeezed,” said Sarkees.
He says with this proposed bill the state could raise the return rate to ten cents a return, instead of five, and could include non-carbonated drinks as well. To read more about the proposed bill, click here.
To donate your bottles and cans to Angelo Sarkees, he says the best way to contact him is via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more information about Community Mission or Heart Love and Soul, and Modern.
Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.