Ron Vance, known as the ‘Tin Man with a heart,' has been on a mission for over 11 years to keep old appliances out of the landfill.
Vance spends his spare time loading up old appliances in his truck and taking them away in exchange for a donation that he gives to various local and national charities.
“It all started when I ran into a lady on my street who was collecting cans to raise money for The Lighthouse which helped them buy soup and things like that. So, I started thinking that this is something that I could do,” Vance explained.
The 74-year-old started his collecting with cans and beer bottles and made his way to appliances. Vance has become so popular that he now regularly gets calls from people in Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Barrie.
“I’d say over the last 11 years we’ve donated $50,000 roughly. It’s a lot of stoves and fridges,” he said with a chuckle.
When Vance first started the initiative, he would take the appliances right from people’s houses, but he now asks people to leave them outside.
“I can’t be picking these things up over my head which I’ve done lots of times,” he said.
“It’s turned into a lot of heavy work. Sometimes I need help getting things on the trailer, but I still enjoy it and it gives me something to do.”
Despite the physicality of the work, he doesn’t have any plans on packing it in anytime soon.
“I hope to keep doing it for as long as I can, but it depends on how long my back is going to hold out,” he said.
Away from his appliance pick-up hobby, Vance is a school bus driver, which gives him extra time throughout the day to coordinate pick-ups.
The Richmond Hill native says Orillia is the perfect place for his hobby.
“There is a scrap yard on Kitchener Street, and that’s about the only place around here that you can take them for recycling,” he explained.
The best part of the hobby for Vance is taking all the money he raises to a local charity.
“It makes me feel happy that I could do something for somebody,” he said.
Vance has supported The Sharing Place, the Lighthouse, Green Haven Shelter for Women, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Sick Kids Hospital, and others.
Vance says without the help of his wife, his appliance pick-up hobby wouldn’t be possible.
“She’s 72 and a lot of the time she helps me pop it up in the trailer. Without that extra kick I would never get it done," he said.
"She’s been a great inspiration for it.”
If you have an appliance that is ready to be recycled, Vance can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org