By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Becky Savage lost two children to prescription drug and alcohol abuse.
Now, she works to ensure that her sons’ legacy lives on by stopping abuse before it starts.
Savage, who serves as president of the 525 Foundation, was on hand at the Kosciusko County Jail on Monday, Dec. 6, to dedicate a prescription drug takeback box. The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office obtained the Drop 2 Stop box via a grant from the foundation.
The box in the jail’s lobby replaces the 15-year-old one by the jail’s parking lot. It’s the 16th box that the foundation has established across northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan.
Putting out the Drop 2 Stop boxes is one of several functions of the foundation, which Savage helped start following the deaths of her sons Jack and Nick Savage in 2015. The organization’s name comes from the numbers 5 and 25 that the boys had while playing high school hockey.
She said their legacy lives on through it.
“It took … a good year to really kind of regroup as a family and just kind of not really try to find our silver lining but try to figure out what (the boys) could still do to still make a difference in the lives of other people and this is one of their ways by us telling their stories, they’re still able to make a difference in the lives of other people whether they’re here physically or not,” she said.
“We have a book (“#OneChoice: How Ten Seconds Can Change Your Life”), it’s going to be released Dec. 16, which … actually they’re the authors of the book, telling their story and it’s just another form of outreach,” she added.
The foundation is also responsible for educating others about drug abuse through various classes and its Wise-Up social media campaigns.
Savage cited figures that 100,000 people died from different types of overdoses over the last year.
“We really just want people to do a little bit (in combatting drug abuse),” she said. “If everybody just did a little bit, we could take a really big bite out of that elephant.”
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Shane Bucher said the office collected about 1,000 pounds of prescription drugs through the current box over the past year. That’s about 20-25 pounds a week.
Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes noted the new box is safer for sheriff’s office employees to empty out. Unlike the previous one, there’s a liner inside to help hold the contents so there’s less physical handling.
“The reaching in and removing it just wasn’t a safe option, so that’s what we like about this box too and being inside with it being cold out in the winter and everything coming up, we hope people use it,” he said.
The box has rules posted on its front for what may and may not be placed in it. Items which may be put in it include prescriptions (Schedule II-V controlled and noncontrolled substances), vitamins, prescription ointments, pet medications, prescription patches and over-the-counter medications.
Items not accepted include needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, thermometers, lotions or liquids and hydrogen peroxide.
“We’re excited about the new box,” said Dukes. “We’re taking a proactive stance to the opioid problem here in Kosciusko County and the previous drug box shows that there’s a need.”
To learn more about the 525 Foundation or donate towards it, visit 525foundation.org.