Chuck Rodman and Steve Wilson are the unofficial kings of cans in Eden Prairie.
The pair has been involved in generating funds for the Eden Prairie Lions Club by cashing in an assortment of aluminum soda, fizzy water and beer cans for many years.
They can reel off the current going rate for aluminum and they happily shed their warm coats in below zero weather so that the Eden Prairie Lions’ logos on their shirts are clearly visible in a photograph.
The recycled can business is a little tougher these days, and not just because of the weather. It seems the value of the empty vessels has diminished in the past few years.
Rodman said a load of cans is worth about $86 now, compared to $160 not long ago. Scrap aluminum soda cans sell for about 52 cents per pound now, according to scrapmonster.com. The same cans were worth over a $1 per pound in 2010, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
But Rodman and Wilson are undeterred. The trailers fill up about every three to four weeks. They empty them earlier if they see a snowstorm coming. Heavy snow loads in the trailers complicate their sale and can result in a smaller payoff.
Can contributors are mostly household members stopping by and dumping their weekly collection of aluminum recyclables, they say.
Eden Prairie Lions Club
There are 100 members of the Eden Prairie Lions Club, including both men and women. Both Rodman and Wilson are members of the Lions’ Recycling Committee, although Wilson simply refers to himself as a “gopher.” Rodman has been doing this work for 12 years, Wilson six.
In addition to the aluminum can effort, money is raised at the Lions Pancake Breakfast in April, Schooner Days in June, their July 4th beer trailer, and the annual corn feed in August.
The Lions continue to find new ways to attract people to their events. Wilson went so far as to tease an upcoming event in conjunction with Schooner Days in June – a parade.
“It will start at the high school, go down Valley View and north on County Road 4 and back to the high school,” he said.
All of the profits from these endeavors is donated. None is used to support Lions Club operations, which are supported by funds from members.
Where do I take my cans?
The Eden Prairie Lions Club has two aluminum can recycling trailers. One is at Round Lake in the tennis court parking lot across from the Community Center on Valley View Rd. The other is in the parking lot of the BP gas station near Gina Maria’s Pizza on the corner of Valley View and Mitchell roads. Wilson said a lot of credit goes to the businesses who support them by allowing the trailer to live in their parking lot.
Where the money goes
Money raised by the Lions benefits a lengthy list of non-profit and volunteer organizations. The Lions donated a total of $75,000 from July 2019 to March 2020.
Here are some examples of beneficiaries:
- True Friends Camp Eden Wood (Special needs children’s camp) ($15,000)
- The Friendship Project (Single parent support & education) ($10,000)
- The Prop Shop (Clothing & furniture to families in need) ($3,400)
- Pickleball Courts at Staring Lake ($2,500)
- Let’s Go Fishing (Fishing trips for seniors & disadvantaged youth) ($1,000)
- Project New Hope (Military family retreats) ($1,000)
The organization has also donated a total of $14,500 to Eden Prairie’s Crime Prevention Fund for a trained K-9 dog, and the fire department for airway management and CPR training mannequins.
Another $7,000 went to lucky Eden Prairie High School students in the form of scholarships.
The Lions Club also has its own pet projects focusing on vision, hearing, and diabetes. Among them are the Lions Gift of Sight Eye Bank, the Lions Hearing Foundation, the Lions Diabetes Foundation, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and more.
It also donates funds to animal rescue and training centers, including the Staring Lake Nature Center, Second Hand Hounds, Light Shine Canine Rescue, SW Metro Animal Rescue, and Wags and Whiskers.
You can check out more information on the Eden Prairie Lions Club website.