Porters raise thousands for hospital with deposit returns

Porters raise thousands for hospital with deposit returns
John Collins, John Keenan, and John Lenihan pushing their latest haul of used bottles and cans from the hospital (Brian Lougheed/PA)

A trio of enterprising porters are using the deposit return scheme to raise thousands of euro for their hospital.

John Collins, John Lenihan and John Keenan initially planned to collect used bottles and cans to pay for a Chinese takeaway on their final night shift of the month at Cork University Hospital.

But the colleagues – dubbed “The 3 Johnnies” – realised the volume of empty cans and bottles across the Wilton campus could instead be turned into a donation for the hospital’s fundraising arm CUH Charity.

In their first fortnight collecting after their shifts ended, the men had converted the used drink containers into 820 euro.

The total has now reached 2,000 euro, guaranteed the re-use of around 12,000 bottles and cans, and is set to continue.

With the blessing of management, they have roped in medical staff, patients and visitors to save every barcoded container and set up drop-off points throughout the complex.

The 3 Johnnies with Zac Dwyer of CUH CharityThe 3 Johnnies with Zac Dwyer of CUH Charity (Brian Lougheed/PA)

“We were chatting among ourselves and thought about gathering the bottles and cans, cashing them in and having a Chinese on the last of our nights,” said father-of-two John Collins, 57, from Douglas, a porter for 18 years.

“But we soon realised they could have a much greater purpose.

“We hated seeing these containers go to waste once the scheme came in, so we started going round the wards we’d usually cover and collecting them after our shifts.

“We took all the bottles and cans away with us, redeemed them for cash and gave whatever we raised straight to the hospital’s charity.

“It is phenomenal the reaction we got from the nursing, catering and other staff.”

The 3 Johnnies, who identified the opportunity shortly after the deposit return scheme was introduced in February, now want to extend it by encouraging businesses in Cork to hand over their used containers in aid of CUH Charity.

They have even created an itemised spreadsheet detailing how many bottles they collect following their night shifts and how much it has translated into cash from the reverse vending machines at supermarkets in Grange, Ballyphehane and other areas.

Part of John Lenihan’s role at CUH is to collect waste, so he separates the recyclable containers before handing them over to his workmates to bag up.

CUH porter John Collins recycling used cans and bottles (Brian Lougheed)

“If I collect 200-300 bottles a night, that’s over 1,000 in a working week, and when you multiply that by 52, you’re talking nice money for the charity,” said the Douglas man.

Former retail worker John Keenan, from Glanmire, collects the bottles and cans from A&E and the outpatients’ department – and said there is “massive buy-in” from staff.

“They’re always asking us how we’re getting on. Housekeeping staff will clean up after patients leave and keep the bottles for us,” he said.

“We do it on our own time, it doesn’t affect our work at all.

“If this was run nationwide, all hospitals would benefit from it.”

Claire Concannon, of CUH Charity, said: “The expression ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ came to mind when we heard what The 3 Johnnies had achieved.

“If every school, shop and company across Munster undertook a similar activity, we could raise a huge amount of money to continue the charity’s mission of saving and changing lives.”

– The charity said anyone with similar fundraising ideas can contact

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