Low aluminum prices cost burn foundation

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A drastic drop in the price of aluminum in the past several months is costing the Southeastern Firefighters' Burn Foundation in Augusta thousands of dollars.

"It hurts," said Gerald Woods, the president and CEO of the foundation, adding that the aluminum can drop-off sites are "probably one of our larger single items" in donations.

Ultimately, it means there is less money to help burn victims and their families. For as long as aluminum can prices stay low, officials say, the public can help either by donating more cans to make up for the price decrease or by giving money.

"If we could grow that (can donations) in volume, it would help us offset the losses," Mr. Woods said. "To be frank with you, the best alternative now would be cash donations. And then if the aluminum price goes up, aluminum would help us."

Lately, Mr. Woods said, the return on aluminum cans has been about 25 cents per pound.

"We were getting somewhere in the 70s at one point a year ago," he said. "It dropped rather dramatically in the fall."

According to Associated Press reports, the price has plummeted along with other scrap metal recyclables as the economy has taken a hit on consumer demand for products made of such materials.

In peak years, the foundation has received as much as $75,000 from can donations. Last year, aluminum collections brought in about $55,000, he said, and this year's expected return is about $45,000.

The funds are used in a myriad of foundation operations, including a 50-bed retreat near Doctors Hospital's Joseph M. Still Burn Center that offers family members of burn victims a place to stay while their relative recovers. The retreat, which is staffed 24 hours, provides at least one meal a day.

"The proceeds from the ACBV (Aluminum Cans for Burn Victims) program support the burn foundation's mission of helping burn patients and their families when disaster strikes with lodging, meals, pressure garments, medications and travel expenses," said Dawn Violette, the foundation's development director. "With the community's support, we can continue that mission."

Mr. Woods said other fundraising sources include boot drives by fire departments, motorcycle rides, golf tournaments and a rodeo in Columbia County.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 823-3338 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Aluminum can drop-off sites

- Appling Fire Department, Georgia Highway 47 Appling

- Aiken Public Safety, 251 Laurens St. N.W., Aiken

- Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, 4185 Windsor Spring Road, Hephzibah; 2618 Richmond Hill Road, Augusta; 3507 Walton Way Extension, Augusta

- Brookwood Elementary, 455 S. Old Belair Road, Grovetown

- Daniel Village, Augusta

- Davis and Washington roads, Augusta

- Doctors Hospital, 3651 Wheeler Road, Augusta

- Grovetown Department of Public Safety, 306 E. Robinson Ave.

- Martinez Fire Department, 4590 Oakley Pirkle; 704 Furys Ferry Road; 518 Gibbs Road

- Thomson Fire Department

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