Covering college costs, one bottle deposit at a time: 'I'm debt free'

HARRISBURG, Ore. -- Stephanie Lilly started collecting cans and to fund a post high school vacation. Since then she's made collecting bottle deposits a way to fund higher education.

"I figured, 'Well, if you can do it after the Super Bowl, you can do it whenever', so we just started doing it every week," OSU senior Stephanie Lilly said. "It's like a business, it brings in the money and it works."

Stephanie is the youngest of four children. She knew going to school would mean taking out expensive loans.

To avoid borrowing money, she started turning empty containers into college money. Her family was there to support her one can at a time.

"Saturday morning we drive around the community and if they're set out, we'll pick them up and usually we'll wait a few hours and we'll go pick them up again for people that are a little later."

The Lilly's cycle through about 200 streets every 6 to 8 weeks, handing out fliers before they come through on Saturday.

Sundays and Mondays they spend sorting out their collections before going to the local market.

They say a good weekend nets a little over $100.

Lilly is also a part-time employee at Linn Public Works, a job she's had since she was 16 years old.

"Between my job and the bottles, which are my two incomes.. I'm debt free," said Lilly.

Those interested in donating cans to her cause could contact Stephanie at 541-517-4039, or by sending her an email.