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Dining & Culinary Partners with Student Non-Profit on Recycling Initiative

Danielle Cares for ChairsPurdue Dining & Culinary will be collecting bread tags to recycle in support of a non-profit founded by a Purdue student. Proceeds from recycling the bread tags will be used to purchase assisted mobility devices for those in need.

Dining & Culinary will collect bread tags in its residential dining courts and retail locations to donate to Danielle Cares for Chairs, a 501(c)3 foundation committed to improving standards of living by recycling or reusing products that would normally be thrown away. Purdue sophomore Danielle Rothchild founded the non-profit three years ago. Since then she has recycled more than 3 million bread tags, which have been used to purchase seven assisted mobility devices such as wheelchairs and adapted power-wheel cars which are retrofitted by robotics and engineering teams. Students, faculty and staff can also donate bread tags by dropping them in plexiglass boxes located in the dining courts and participating retail locations.

Dining & Culinary and Rothchild began collecting bread tags in Earhart Dining Court in a pilot program midway through the Spring 2019 semester. During that time, more than 5,000 bread tags were collected. According to Rothchild, it takes approximately 260,000 recycled bread tags to purchase a wheelchair and 980,000 bread tags to purchase a powered wheelchair.

Rothchild, a sophomore from Carmel, relies on contacts made through social media to select someone in need of an assisted mobility device. She most recently donated a pediatric wheelchair to a three-year old in Chicago. Rothchild has received assistance from all over the globe. Her partners include organizations in Nova Scotia, baseball teams, national parks and even a prison.

“People are finding me from all over the world, which is cool because I’m just a girl from Indiana,” says Rothchild, who is studying public relations with a minor in organizational leadership. “Every bread tag counts because one can multiply to hundreds.”

The movement to purchase wheelchairs with funds gathered from recycled bread tags was started by South African Mary Honeybun, who founded Bread Tags for Wheelchairs. While there are other such foundations around the world, Rothchild has not found evidence of another organization dedicated to the cause in North America.

Bread tags are made from polystyrene, a type of plastic not typically accepted by recycling centers. Rothchild has found only one recycling center in the Indianapolis area willing to recycle the bread tags she collects. When recycled, bread tags are turned into pellets, which are then used to make items such as toys, sun visors, tape dispensers and plasticware.

In addition to recycling bread tags, Rothchild has designed dresses made from the tags and other recycled items including shower poufs, cupcake liners and twisty ties. When she receives a bread tag donation, she dumps the tags over her head in what she dubs the “Bread Tag Challenge,” inspired by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” started by the ALS Association.

Rothchild hopes to expand the size and impact of her non-profit with more volunteers and fulfill her wish to provide a powered wheelchair for someone in need. One of her other goals is to have a Purdue engineering or robotics group adapt a power-wheel car for a child.

“It’s a small organization right now - just me and my parents,” says Rothchild. “I haven’t been able to give out a powered wheelchair yet, but it’s one of my goals.”

To learn more about Danielle Cares for Chairs, individuals can connect with the organization via Facebook or by contacting Rothchild via email .

Purdue Dining & Culinary’s mission is to nourish and inspire the Purdue community. The organization embraces a focus on co-curricular education and leadership development as an integral part of the Purdue experience. Dining & Culinary offers more than 100 internships and intentional learning opportunities as part of its commitment to partnering with Purdue students.

Matt Vader: writer/social media coordinator, Purdue Student Life Marketing