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Operation Medicine Cabinet had Record Number of Participants, Aims to Collect 1 Million Pills by October

May 21, 2012. The results from Saturday’s Operation Medicine Cabinet (OMC) are in, and our community showed a lot of pride. Operation Medicine Cabinet had a record number of participants this year. The previous best was 171 participants in May of 2011. The operation crushed that number this year with 269 participants!

“The High Country Operation Medicine Cabinet Task Force congratulates our community for their record setting participation in Operation Medicine Cabinet on Saturday,” said Upper Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby. “Thank you for doing such a good job protecting children and the environment by properly disposing of your hazardous drugs. We are on track to be the first community to collect 1 million pills in 2012 when we host our second collection in October.”


This spring OMC collected a total of 153,778 pills, 20 gallons of liquid medications and 83,080 sharps at seven locations: ASU, Beaver Dam, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, Deep Gap and Foscoe/Seven Devils.

According to the survey results that were taken by volunteers at each collection site, people found out about OMC through a variety of methods.

  • 96 from newspapers
  • 31 by word of mouth-many were told about OMC by Dick and Joan Hearn at the community health fare or by Shea Tuberty at ASU
  • 28 heard it on the radio
  • 21 saw a website, email, or facebook post (more people saw it online this year thanks to facebook, blog and/or website posts by the Blowing Rock News, Watauga Democrat, Mountain Times, Watauga Extension and Watauga Riverkeeper)
  • 21 found out about the event from their water bill inserts (2 people said the took the insert out of their water bill and put it on their refrigerator as a reminder so they wouldn’t forget to bring us their drugs today)
  • 18 learned about OMC from Lisa Doty directly or from another county staff member at Watauga County Recycling, several mentioned they saw on a flyer or got a handout at a convenience center
  • 14 saw it on a flyer or poster

Total Drugs Collected since the OMC began:

This was the sixth collection event since OMC began in October of 2009. With the addition of today’s collection, that brings the historical total to 907,063 pills and 90.3 gallons collected. There will be one more collection this year in October. In order to reach a goal of collecting one million pills in 2012 the OMC just needs to collect 92, 937 pills this fall.

They had record setting participation thanks to all the hard work from community partners put into outreach this spring.


The OMC’s May events perform at a much higher level than October events. Possibly because people have spring cleaning on their minds, the ASU semester is ending and because Dick and Joan Hearn do a lot of direct public outreach at the health fair at the Boone Mall every spring before the May OMC. If the October event this coming fall is better than previous October events, OMC should make the 1 million pill goal, but it’s going to be close. OMC will need to turn in its best October collection ever.

“I don’t think anybody else in the state will get to a million pills before we do,” said Donna Lisenby, Watauga Riverkeeper. “We have just been too solidly consistent at hauling in a lot of drugs at every OMC we host.”

Great job to an amazing local team:

OMC had so many people, they got overwhelmed at the Boone Food Lion this year and couldn’t keep up. Lisenby had to send a big shout out of thanks to Carrie Phillips of Boone Drug for pulling a double shift. Phillips came over from the Deep Gap collection site to lend a hand after 2 o’clock. Plus, the Boone Police stepped up and called in additional police officers to help count the pills.

“One of their volunteers also joined us when I asked for his help even though it meant he was late getting home with his groceries,” Lisenby said. “Even with all the extra help, we were later than ever finishing up at the Sheriff’s Department this year.”