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Don't trash old, unwanted Christmas lights

Maybe you pulled out your Christmas lights and found them in a giant, knotted ball, “Christmas Vacation” style.

Or maybe you’ve had it trying to find the one burned out bulb that’s throwing off the whole string. Maybe you’re just ready for new lights.

Whatever you do, don’t trash the old strings.

Bites for Lights has Christmas light drop-off locations across the lakes area. The program takes used Christmas lights and recycles the copper in the strings, then gives all the money to area food shelves and soup kitchens.

Last year the program raised almost $1,000 to put food in front of those in need.

The lights don’t have to work, and any sort of light strand can be donated. It doesn’t matter if the lights are in knots, and those donating the strands don’t need to do anything to the lights besides drop them off.

Extension cords are also accepted, which have more copper than light strands.

The program is a collaborative effort between Sunrise Sertoma of Brainerd, Kenwood Enterprises in Pillager and Crow Wing County.

“We turn them in for cash and take that cash and buy food for those in need,” said Jeff Hilborn of Sunrise Sertoma.

Dan Witt, owner of Kenwood Enterprises, said he and his wife, Julie, wanted to do something for the community and had heard of Christmas light recycling programs. They thought it would work great in the Brainerd lakes area. Kenwood is an electronics recycling company, so the project was right up their alley.

The lights are collected and brought to Crow Wing County recycling, which in turn sells the lights to companies with the necessary equipment to extract the copper.

Witt said that given the changing market value of copper, it’s hard to say what the light strands are worth at any given time. Each year is different.

Last year the group collected 6,000 pounds of lights. Witt said he’s hoping to break that record this year.

The money, Hilborn said, goes to the Brainerd food shelf and area soup kitchens. He said Sertoma will entertain any requests from other organizations, as long as it’s pertaining to food for the needy.

Area drop-off points include: Pequot Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce building in Trailside Park; Crosslake Ace Hardware, 35593 Pioneer Drive; Emily Ace Hardware on Highway 6; and Carlson Hardware, 25673 Main St., Nisswa.

More drop-off sites are located in Brainerd and Baxter. For more information, visit Lights will be collected through mid-January 2014.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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