One Bottle at a Time


When students returned to campus on Jan. 19 they were welcomed back by the familiar faces of their friends, but also by the unfamiliar site of life-size black bottles in every hallway of Le Moyne. But these recycling receptacles set up in almost every building on campus are meant for so much more than just saving the environment—they represent the future of veterans.

Established during the last week of December, Sustainability for Scholarships is a not-for-profit organization recently started on campus by freshman marketing major, Derek Matina. The proceeds from the recyclers will pay the remaining balance of the G.I. Bill so veterans can come to Le Moyne, or other private schools.

Sustainability for Scholarships’ mission is to set up bottle recyclers at events, festivals and eventually other colleges with the purpose of collecting bottles and cans with a deposit. This way the organization is able to aid America’s active and retired troops while helping to maintain America’s environment.

When asked what inspired him to launch this organization, Matina said his patriotism and past desire to serve in the military greatly influenced the charity’s construction.

“When I chose not to serve I still wanted to find a way to give back to the veterans,” said Matina. “So when I saw an area of waste where I thought I could make a difference, I ran with it.”

Matina could have chosen any group of people to reap the benefits of his organization, however, he selected the troops because they have given and sacrificed so much for this country but so often they do not receive the help they deserve or need.  Being a descendant of WWII and D-Day veterans, Matina has always felt a close connection to the troops, so he thought the least he could do for the people who protect his freedoms is try to make their lives just a little bit easier.

For now, Sustainability for Scholarships operates solely out of Le Moyne, but the hope is to one day expand the organization so it can operate on campuses all over the United States. However, Matina believes Le Moyne provides the perfect environment to create a solid basis for his foundation.

“Le Moyne is a campus built on the idea of community and caring, so I thought it already had the foundation for this great organization to flourish,” said Matina.

Collecting bottles around campus only recently commenced on Jan. 20 throughout campus, but Sustainability for scholarships has already been able to receive thousand of dollars in start up donations. And Matina hopes to continue operations with the money received from businesses that choose to advertise on the receptacles [which are made out of recycled bottles themselves].

Many are in awe of what Matina has been able to accomplish within his first year [barely] at Le Moyne, and that includes one of his closest friends and roommate, Noah Whalen.

“I think the work Derek is doing for the veterans is great,” said Whalen. “He’s pretty studious and definitely ambitious so it’s not surprising he started something like this.”

While Matina is happy with the progress of Sustainability for Scholarships so far, he admits the organization’s job will never be done until it finds a way to help as many vets as much as possible.

For more information regarding donations, sponsoring or volunteering, contact Derek Matina at 585-755-1151 or by email at [email protected].