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Special Olympics recycling donations into 'gold'

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD Is it possible to weave straw into gold? Maybe not, but it is possible to turn an unwanted car into cash for the Special Olympics through Recycle for Gold.

This particular campaign has recently been added to the bill of fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics Massachusetts West Section in the hopes that it will achieve similar success to that of other regions in the state.

Since 1993, over 100,000 cars have been donated and been 100 percent recycled by Millis Industries in Millis, Mass. Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) has received between $400,000 and $600,000 annually through this fundraising campaign, according to Joe Siegel, assistant vice president for Field Services at SOMA.

"The market for this type of program is very strong right now and provides people with a good option regarding their unwanted automobiles and providing an opportunity to help an important cause," Siegel said.

Funds donated to SOMA vary based on each vehicle, Bill Goodale, general manager of Millis Auto Parts, said. He explained that once the car has been called in for donation it is picked up at the expense of Millis Auto Parts and recycled. The cars are either sold or recycled for parts. Goodale said 50 percent of the gross profits are given to SOMA if the car is sold and one third of the profits are donated if the vehicle is recycled for parts.

Goodale said he has always been eager to contribute to the Special Olympics since their partnership began over 10 years ago. "The people of the Special Olympics organization are the most sincere and caring people I've ever met and what they do for the athletes is amazing," he said.

SOMA provides athletic competition and activities for over 9,000 athletes year round. This year's efforts for the over 2,500 athletes in the West Section have been focused on the Jolly Jaunt Fun Run, seasonal assessment rounds for winter sports, soccer, basketball and softball and school day games for a variety of school systems, according to Siegel. One of the largest upcoming projects is the 2008 Winter Games in Worcester during February, which will provide competition for 1,900 Special Olympic athletes.

"Athletes not only compete together and make new friends with fellow athletes, volunteers and supporters but have a chance to show what they can accomplish when given the chance," Siegel said of the various activities provided by SOMA.

In order to help offset operational costs, Siegel said he projects that 10,000 cars will be donated this year to Recycle for Gold. He said that SOMA is hoping for a successful extension of this fundraising campaign in the West Section that will help with their overall growth plan to serve 17,000 athletes.

For more information on Recycle for Gold or to donate a car go to To recycle a car call 1-800-590-1600.