ASSIGNMENT 13: Where’s the money going? Mysterious can collection bins pop up across town

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- You've probably seen the Cans 4 Kids aluminum can collection bins all over town.

But who's behind the bins and where's the recycling money going to?

"Cans for Kids" has been a fundraising program for the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes for nearly a decade.

But other can collection bins under the name Cans 4 Kids have been popping up around Eau Claire for the past two years.

The Fellowship came to WEAU 13 News to help find out if the Cans 4 Kids collection is a legitimate charity.

But when WEAU called someone who was collecting cans, her response didn't do much to make them sound legit.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) aluminum can collection bins can be found at Festival Foods and other grocery stores around town.

A sign on the bins indicates the funds from recycling the cans are going to the FAC Cans for Kids program.

“We started it about 9 years ago as a fundraiser to provide scholarships for kids who want to go to a camp, but would have a hard time coming up with the money on their own,” said FAC member Dave Turner

But there are other can collection bins out there with a variation on the same name.

The signs say "Cans 4 Kids", but there's no indication of what group is behind them.

Turner said the FAC is in no way connected to this Cans 4 Kids program.

“I started doing a little checking and pretty soon I discovered nobody seemed to know who this Cans 4 Kids is,” Turner said.

Right now there are bins placed outside Family Video on Madison Street and the Exxon Bridgestop on Ferry Street.

Both businesses told WEAU that they have no idea who placed them there or where the recycling money is going.

A manager at Kwik Trip on North Claremont said they've removed the bins several times but they keep coming back.

“If this is going to a good cause, great; we just want to make sure that it isn't a group of four guys sharing an apartment and decided that this is a good way to put money in our pockets,” Turner said.

Turner also said he’s concerned people will think they are making donations to the FAC when they place cans in the mysterious bins.

The businesses said whoever is picking up the cans comes in the dark of night.

Family Video was able to confront a woman named Patty collecting the cans and got a phone number.

WEAU called Patty and asked her to explain the group, but she abruptly hung up when asked about where the money is going.

The woman did not return phone messages.

Turner fears these bins could be generating close to $1,000 a year.

“And that's really all we're looking for. Who are you, Cans 4 Kids?” Turner said.

The Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection said there is no registered charity in the state under the name Cans 4 Kids.

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