Tom Bozic is on a mission to visit nearly two-dozen Return and Earn machines across Sydney, New South Wales, by bicycle to raise much-needed funds for people living with autism.
Tom is president of the Sydney Autism Community Lions Club (SACLC), a not-for-profit organisation that is currently featured as a charity partner on 22 Return and Earn machines across Sydney.
On a whim, Tom decided to visit them all to raise money for other people living with autism.
‘”Personally, I have been making the effort to visit all the machines that our club is listed on – by bicycle – and depositing a donation in each and every one of them,” Tom said.
“There is no shortage of “donation material” that can be found while riding my bike along the streets!” Tom added.
SACLC works to support people who are on the autism spectrum or otherwise neurodivergent.
Funds raised through Return and Earn will support initiatives such as funding social activities for autistic adults and children, sensory playgrounds, quiet rooms, therapeutic trampolines, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and more.
Tom was diagnosed as autistic when he was 12, but said that for years he “didn’t take it that seriously, since who would want to be associated with something “negative”?”
He said that over time his attitude has flipped.
“I embraced an autistic identity in recent years when I met other people like me and realised autism is a positive thing, and now I’m a lot happier and at peace with myself.
“Now I do what I can to help others just like me,” Tom added.
Thanks to Tom’s enthusiasm, and the club’s many supporters, SACLC has raised more than $3,500 in just three months from container donations.
One of Tom’s bicycle adventures took him on a tour of some of the Return and Earn machines that can be found on the Northern Beaches.
“I arrived at my first one, located near the Woolworths in Balgowlah and noticed that the next machine was 300 metres away next to the Coles in Manly Vale. Easily the closest two machines on the Return and Earn network!’ Tom says.
‘Since I wanted to test out both machines I decided to split the donation. I donated plastic and metal containers at the Woolies then rode the short distance to Coles and deposited our glass bottles there.
“Once that was done, I tracked on towards Westfield Warringah Mall [in Brookvale] and the third machine and made a deposit from all the containers I collected along the way,” he said.
An avid craft beer enthusiast, Tom also took the time to pay his respects to Brookvale’s burgeoning craft brewing scene by sampling a beer each from the craft breweries nearby.
Finally, he headed to Dee Why for the fourth and final deposit of the day before heading back to SACLC’s Eastern Suburbs headquarters.
Tom has also toured such far-flung destinations as Strathfield, Rhodes, and Lane Cove in a similar fashion on different occasions.
In the process of exploring the container return network and collecting containers, Tom and his team have been developing ideas for fundraising activities that leverage Return and Earn, such as visiting as many return points as possible in a single day all by bicycle.
You can follow Tom’s Return and Earn fundraising quest by visiting their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SydneyAutismLionsClub/
You can find out more about Return and Earn here: https://returnandearn.org.au/
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.