NORTH BRUNSWICK – When a teacher asked his students to save their water bottle caps, Austin Shulas was determined to not just participate, but to make a huge impact.
Austin is a member of the North Brunswick Township Marching Band/Drumline and the Jazz Band. He is a drummer, and also plays the alto and bari saxophone.
The sophomore set out to collect hundreds of caps, which would be recycled and used to make a prosthetic limb. Austin’s teacher could not be reached for comment regarding the specifics of the project.
“I went home and thought of a way I could collect enough to help out,” Austin said. “I thought it was a simple way to help out young kids in need. I enjoy helping others and I just like to be involved.”
So, Austin posted on his Facebook page and North Brunswick’s Facebook page, as well as Instagram, asking everyone to save their bottle caps.
“I emailed all of the principals in the district. They announced it to students and staff. The next thing you know the schools were collecting tons of them. My sister, Caleigh, an eighth grader at North Brunswick Township Middle School, helped collect water cap lids from her school. My whole family was collecting them. My work was collecting them. Even people I did not know reached out to me and saved them for me and they even dropped them off at my house. I also went to houses and collected.
“My mom, who is a teacher, asked teachers in her school to collect them and they filled up bins,” he said.
Since October, Austin has collected more than 250,000 lids to date.
“I started counting them in the beginning, but we had so many so I had to estimate using large buckets. My basement is filled with bags, boxes and buckets of lids. We collected so many that my teacher said the place was running out of space to house them,” he said.
Although it is unclear how many bottle caps are needed to make each prosthetic, Austin is continuing to collect the lids. He gave them to his teacher, and is now holding on to the overflow.
“Even though we are slowing the collection down, I cannot turn anyone’s caps down. I would find another place willing to accept them,” he said.
The Water Bottle Cap Project is important to Austin because “I heard what the caps were being used for and I instantly wanted to help out and change people’s lives. Plus, I am very lucky to be healthy and have many things that others may not have in their life. I enjoy doing what I can to help the community,” he said.
Austin is no stranger to community service efforts. He has participated in the Macy’s Believe Campaign for Make-A-Wish, where Macy’s donates one dollar to Make-A-Wish America for every letter written to Santa. He asked friends, family and students in his mother’s school to help out, and he raised nearly $500 alone.
In addition, the Honor Roll student works with special needs students, is a Key Club member, and is a member of the Care to Walk Club for cancer awareness.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.