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Cortland/Ithaca

Bottle and can redemption center causes controversy

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Bottle and can redemption center causes controversy
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It’s a turf battle, between two organizations with the same charitable goal. The Rescue Mission in Syracuse purchased a bottle redemption center chain and one of those stores is in Rome. Now leaders from the Rome Rescue Mission are less than pleased. Cara Thomas takes a closer look at the controversy.

ROME, N.Y. -- With a mission to end hunger and helplessness, the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse is finding new ways to make a little extra money. To do that, they bought the 'Up to 8 Cents Bottle and Can Redemption Centers.'

"This is a for profit that is wholly owned by a non-profit. So in and of itself, the revenues raised go to support a mission," said Alan Thornton, from the Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse.

But this new endeavor may be stepping on other non-profit's toes. One of their stores is located in a city outside their coverage area: Rome.

"It was a deliberate attempt to come in here and really make a profit off the Rome population to support the Syracuse mission," said Matt Miller, the Executive Director of the Rome Rescue Mission.

The opening of this redemption center is a tough pill to swallow for leaders at the Rome Rescue Mission. They say there are already a handful of redemption centers in Rome.

"They're taking money that is in the Rome community that could stay in the Rome community regardless," said Miller.

But what upsets them the most is not being involved from the beginning. They say they didn't find out about the redemption center until after it was already opened.

Miller said, "And that's quite arrogant in my opinion that he would close a deal and then say we want your blessing basically or your support in this endeavor that is going to make them a lot of money and I just won't do that."

But if they did collaborate, officials at the Syracuse Rescue Mission say it could be a win-win situation.

"They could essentially leverage the brand of mission returns to have their donors raise bottles and cans that we can process and then return those designated donations back to the Rome Rescue Mission," said Thornton.

And those partnerships are open to any non-profit in the area that helps the hungry and homeless.

Within the next month, the 'Up to 8 Cents Redemption Centers' will be getting a new name. They'll be called 'Mission Returns.'

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