Wednesday December 5, 2012

NEAL P. GOSWAMI

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Work is progressing on a local bottle redemption center that burned last month, in the meantime, however, the owner says he will continue to collect bottles and donate all proceeds to two charities.

Denis Noel said the bottle redemption center at Bennington Beverage Outlet will be rebuilt in three to four weeks. Although customers cannot currently return bottles for cash, they can still drop bottles off at the store for charity, he said. All donations will benefit the Interfaith Food & Fuel Fund and the Sacred Heart Food Pantry. In addition, Noel said he plans to match the value of all bottles donated.

"The Bennington Food and Fuel Fund and the Sacred Heart Pantry have been our two largest donations through the window. We felt it was important to keep those going, if we could," he said. "Plus, we want people to come and see the progress of the new building. It’s our way of being able to help."

The stand-alone redemption center building caught fire on Nov. 9 and was deemed to be a complete loss. The fire did not spread to the store. Noel immediately began making plans to rebuild. But, he said he has had to turn away customers looking to redeem bottles because he currently lacks the space to collect them.

Noel said he has worked with TAM Waste Management, which is providing storage space, to collect donated bottles. "If they want to fill the trailer we’ll match it," he said. "If we could fill two trailers we’d fill two trailers. It’s going to last probably until Christmas."

"It’s the perfect time of year for giving," Noel said.

Noel purchased the business 10 years ago and built the bottle redemption building five years ago, after the redemption business quickly grew too large for the store space. The business was receiving about 10,000 bottles a day before the fire, he said. That could mean a sizable donation to those in need if people choose to donate.

"I just think it’s appropriate for everyone involved," Noel said. "We just want to make a bad situation good for everybody. I understand that not everybody is going to donate."

Noel said he anticipates reopening the redemption center by the new year. Bottle donations will be collected through at least Christmas, he said. Customers interested in donating bottles can inform store personnel who will help collect the donation, according to Noel.