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Someone You Should Know: Collecting and crushing cans for a cause

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 4:55 PM CDT
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HURON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Part of life at Gerald Schied’s place just outside of Huron is taking care of waste. He used to take his scrap metal, including cans, to sell just for himself. But soon, he got a better idea of where to send those funds.

“It’s kind of weird. Because it just seemed like, maybe a couple of weeks there I kept seeing this Make-A-Wish commercial, different ones all of the time on TV, or in the paper. And I just thought, ‘Well, why don’t we throw it that way?’,” said Schied.

Since 2011, Schied has been collecting not only his own cans and scrap metal to sell and donate to Make-A-Wish. But he’s slowly grown a collection system for friends and acquaintances, collecting their cans and donating the funds as well.

“It started out, with like 500 dollar checks. Then it went to a thousand, pretty soon we were sending 10 thousand. Now, Jessica from Make-A-Wish told me the other day we’re up to 65 thousand dollars so far,” said Schied.

For Schied, it’s almost become a second job. In his truck and trailer, he keeps a schedule of when to collect at locations. And his donors aren’t just from the Huron area, with some as far away as Mitchell and Pierre.

And he’s even had to build his own can crusher just to clear space in his collections barrels.

“Some people you change out every week, some every two weeks. Some every month, some every other month. Just depends on how many they’re putting in there. I’ve got a date calendar, I just put everything in there. Keep track of all of the dates, people, and all of their names.”

Schied said he’s been collecting this round of cans and scrap metal for over a year and a half. In total, he estimates he’ll sell over a million cans, with all of the funds going towards Make-A-Wish.

“It’s always amazing to see the new updates he has,” said Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Montana Data & Operations Manager Jessica Clark. “Because every time he gives me a phone call, there’s some more bit of exciting news. He always has a new donor he’s talking about or a new business that donated to him.”

“Gerry has that unique ability to rally an entire community and then some, behind his efforts to collect cans and scrap metal to make wishes come true,” said Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Montana President and CEO Sue Salter.

Schied’s done more for Make-A-Wish than just donate proceeds from cans and metal. At the same time he started donating financially, he also started donating his time. He’s been on 12 teams granting wishes to those who need it.

Schied said as word spreads about his efforts, more and more people are reaching out to him to donate. Although he said it’s taken up almost all of his free time, he doesn’t mind in the slightest.

“I work for the railroad, I have 45 years in with them right now. And I’ve got a few cattle out here I mess with and stuff. We’ve got something to do all the time around here it seems like,” said Schied. “Make-A-Wish has kind of slipped up to a high priority in our lives right now.”

Schied said although it’s taken a lot of time and work to keep up this effort, he looks forward to growing and expanding it in the future.

All to help make wishes come true.

“It’s just great, absolutely great to do this for these kids. I love them, it’s a good time.”

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