The collecting-junk-for-charity hoax
must be at least a century old by now. It resurfaced most recently in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where members of a church had been collecting plastic bottle caps, thinking the caps would somehow help pay for chemotherapy treatment for a sick child.
One of the church members, when she learned the truth
, had this to say about the hoax: "It's a form of terrorism because it disrupts your day-to-day life and prevents you from doing the things you want to accomplish."
That may be stretching the definition of terrorism just a little bit. Though I can understand why she's upset.
The article also noted some other examples of this hoax that have occurred within the past three years:
In 2008, several women in North East England were approached by a woman in a shopping center who told them she was collecting caps to help provide wheelchairs for disabled children. They collected thousands of caps over a period of months but were unable to reach the woman and had no idea where to send the bottle caps.
In 2008-09, the hoax hit West Virginia, where people collected thousands of caps for chemo treatments, only to find that the plastic was worthless.
Another story, designed to touch the hearts of America's military, was that bottle caps could be recycled for prosthetic limbs.
In 2010, American soldiers at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan had collected thousands and thousands of the caps when an investigation by Lt. Col. Thomas Rodrigues, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's judge advocate general, revealed the story was a hoax. He contacted the largest prosthetic limb manufacturer in the United States and learned that bottle caps could not be used in their products. He also found that no one on the base knew who the beneficiary was or what to do with the collected caps.