Lion’s Head Community Bottle Fund Supports Community Based Events Year-Round

Photo L-R: Tim Hayes with volunteers Bonita Myles (teacher), Mason Sherman (student), and Tammy Sherman (parent) sort bottles at the Lion’s Head bottle return. Funds from these donated bottles will go towards the BPDS Grade 7/8 trip to Ottawa.
By Joanne Rodgers, Bruce Peninsula Press

The Lion’s Head Community Bottle Fund, operating out of the former fertilizer depot located next to the LCBO in Lion’s Head, averages about $1,000 a month from empties left by community members and visitors. Managed on a volunteer basis by Tim Hayes, all the money collected goes directly back to the community for mostly kids and senior events.

The Lion’s Head Community Bottle Fund started in 2002 to raise money for the Scouts group. Collection Bins were located at the waste and recycling centre in Ferndale. By 2012, the Scouts program had ended and Hayes directed the money collected towards funding community based events primarily for kids and seniors. 

When the Ferndale location was closed, the Bottle collection point moved to its current location, next to the LCBO in Lion’s Head.

Hayes says that donations of empties did not decrease during the years of the pandemic, as such the Fund exited the COVID years with a surplus, allowing him to fund many different activities and/or increase the donations to the regularly sponsored programs.

Photo: Tim Hayes at the Bottle Drive drop-off building next to the LCBO in Lion’s Head.

Supporting Community Activities

The Bottle Fund pays the bill for supplies for the hot dogs served prior to the Parade in Lion’s Head on Canada Day. The Fire Services serve the hot dogs and any donations made by the community go directly to the Fire Service.

It also co-sponsors, along with The Shops at 84 Main, the Annual Summer Sandcastle competition at the Lion’s Head Beach. Hayes usually directs about $500 towards this fun-filled event.

Prior to COVID, the Bottle Fund contributed to the Lion’s Head Community Potluck and sponsored the beach games for the kids. Hayes plans to continue this tradition whenever the community event returns.

Local Schools Benefit from Bottle Fund

A hundred percent of the cost of supplies is covered by the Bottle Fund for the Annual Festive Feast held at the end of the winter school term at the schools in Tobermory and Lion’s Head and at the daycare in Tobermory. The Fund started donating to the Festive Feast in 2015 at BPDS and by 2018 the Community Bottle Fund has been fully paying for the food. In 2023, the Bottle Fund also totally covered the cost of the meal in Tobermory for St Edmunds Public School and Tobermory Primary Place Daycare. 

Hayes says he derives lots of joy seeing the smiles of the kids as they are being treated to a Festive meal. He is especially pleased that all the students are involved in making the meal memorable for their fellow students. Hayes compliments the students on doing an amazing job of decorating, serving and participating in the event.

Funds are also given towards BPDS Grade 7/8 trip to Ottawa. For the month of January 2024, all income from bottles and cans donated goes towards the Annual BPDS Grade 7/8 trip to Ottawa. Students came to the bottle depot every Friday after school in January to sort and count the bottles and cans. 

Local school kids are treated to a day trip to Storybook Park in the Spring. The bottle Fund contributes $2,000 to the outing.

Fund Sponsors Community Seniors Suppers

The Bottle Fund sponsors meals for two seniors groups, at the Friendship Hall in Lion’s Head and for Seniors Centre Without Walls at the Legion Building. The groups submit their grocery bills for the meals, and Hayes reimburses the groups.

A Christmas Meal at Rachel’s Restaurant is fully funded for 80 persons, costing about $2,000. In 2023, for the 4th Annual Free Seniors Christmas, over 128 persons attended with Rachel’s Restaurant assisting in subsidizing the additional costs.

Another Seniors Christmas meal is offered at Bear Tracks Restaurant, with the Bottle Fund paying $15 per person towards the cost of the $25 meal.

Fund entertains any reasonable requests for support

Hayes says he will consider any reasonable request for funds, especially those groups that need a little boost of a few more dollars for their event. 

The Lion’s Head Community Bottle Fund has sponsored many events and groups throughout the years since 2013, including providing sweaters for a children’s sports team.

Tim Hayes expresses his appreciation to the community and visitors for supporting the Bottle Fund. Most people learn about the drop-off through word of mouth.

Many visitors drop off their empties and are pleased that it is going for a charitable cause, so do not ask for the return deposit, says Hayes.

Additionally both residents and cottagers are thrilled that their donations of bottles and cans are being used to do something good for the community.

Hayes reminds organizations and residents that their empty bottles and cans can be left outside in the bins or brought into the depot if open. 

Volunteers needed

Photo: A community member drops off their empties at the Community Bottle Return.

Hayes mostly does the counting and sorting and all of the administrative work. He says there is a lot that happens behind the scenes. Sometimes in the summer, student helpers come out, while the Grade 7/8 students pitch in to help in January to fund their Ottawa trip.

He would like to see more community groups looking for assistance from the Fund, to volunteer their time to sort, count and pack the empties.

Hayes says sometimes some of the empties are stolen, but last year he says the boldness of a thief who returned twice to steal empties surprised him and riled up the community. He was pleased with the supportive response from the OPP regarding the incident; the person was known by the detachment. 

Hayes did not press charges but requested that the individual be informed that he was not welcomed in Lion’s Head. An anonymous patron donated the dollar value of the lost empties, so the Fund did not lose out.