Collop, 67, of Sacramento, "The Can Lady," volunteers
as a fundraiser for the Agency for Hearing in Sacramento. Since 1999,
Collop has tirelessly gathered aluminum cans for recycling, donating
the proceeds to the agency for upkeep and future purchases of vans that
travel throughout Northern California providing hearing tests and assistance
for people of all ages.
Collop is also an active member of Self Help for the Hard of Hearing.
She began volunteering at the Agency for Hearing in 1996 and has personally
raised more than $7,830 for the agency from recycling cans.
How often do you go out on your can-collecting rounds?
It's an ongoing thing. I have 17 places to pick up cans and I could
go out every day if I wanted to. Some stops, it's every two weeks. And
this one gal calls me and says she has a lot of beer cans. It's horrible
to get them because the car smells like a brewery, but they bring in
the money! I still get a dollar a pound, but I won't say where I get
How did you become "The Can Lady?"
Because there was no money being put aside for new vans, and our vans
were on their last legs, though we have a new one now. Being a non-profit
organization, there was never enough money to put away for vans. So,
I said, "OK, I'll do it myself."
Where did your initial motivation come from?
I realized I was hard of hearing when I was in the sixth grade. That's
why I think this program is so important. Kids don't know what they
don't hear, so they don't think anything is wrong with them. The tones
you might miss, the sounds you miss. They miss out on a heck of a lot
and I know from experience.
Are other individuals or groups helping you with this project?
There are some civic organizations that earmark their cans for The Can
Lady. And we had a fourth-grade class project for the Cirby School in
Roseville. They saved cans for me and it was a lot of fun to go out
there and talk to them. They really brought the cans in, but I don't
know if their parents were too happy!
Has the cost of gas affected your efforts?
I have to plan my route, and plan what I'm doing, because it's pretty
What's the most unusual experience you've had while collecting cans?
My attorney collects cans for me, even at the courthouse! I can't believe
she collects cans for me. I used to work for them. And there was the
time I had millions of ants on my patio from a batch of cans. Out at
the fair, you'd be surprised how many cans we dug out of cars and out
of the back end of pickups.
I went up to Seattle one year for the SHHH [Self-Help for the Hard of
Hearing] conference. I have family up there because I'm from Seattle.
I get up there and my nephew says, "C'mon over here Auntie Jean,
I want to show you something."
He opens up the flower house and it's just loaded with cans! I crushed
every one of those cans, then I e-mailed everybody here in California
to see if I couldn't find someone to take the cans. They were only paying
something like 20 cents a pound there. Luckily, Jim Montgomery, the
president of the SHHH, had a truck up there and he brought them back
What is the most satisfying aspect of volunteering at the Agency
Raising the money, and eventually we're going to get another van. It's
most satisfying to know that the vans go out to the school and do the
hearing tests for the kids. That's what it's all about. We have the
funds now to help more than we ever did before.
What do you do with you spare time when you're not collecting cans?
I crush them! I bring them home and I have a can crusher that I use.
I don't even have my hearing aid on when I'm doing it. It gives your
ear a rest.
Susan Roberts, Agency for Hearing fund developer (and Collop's daughter),
Having her out there doing this helps when we write grant requests.
It helped when we received a grant for the first new van last year.
She's a real strong advocate for hard-of-hearing people. She comes to
our Living with Hearing Loss class, sits there, and by the end of the
class she's encouraging people to advocate for themselves and tells
about her own personal experience.
So, for anything and everything to do with hard-of-hearing advocacy,
she's out there.