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Minooka youth wins America Recycles Day photo contest
Tammy Reiher

Minooka youth wins America Recycles Day photo contest

JOLIET – A long ago accident led to a community event to help Ronald McDonald House charities and now to its new collector-in-chief winning the 2017 Will County America Recycles Day photo contest.

Brayden Caraynoff-Haber, 13, of Minooka was presented a refurbished iPad 2 by Will County Executive Larry Walsh for the winning entry.  

Ten years ago his sister, Caitlynn Caraynoff, was riding her bicycle and took a hard fall on a concrete sidewalk that resulted in her needing 71 brain surgeries. Their mother, Kelly Caraynoff, stayed in seven Ronald McDonald Houses to be near wherever her daughter was receiving care.

A couple years later, Kelly’s middle son, Alex Caraynoff, decided he wanted to do something to give back to Ronald McDonald House and he started a recycling effort to benefit the organization. The pop tab and pop can collection became a community event that culminates the third Saturday each September.

Eight years later Caitlynn, 21, is an EMT and Alex, 19, is a student at Penn State.

“(Alex) left the homestead so I took over,” said Brayden with a grin.

The endeavor initiated by his brother has grown to involve 45 large collection bins throughout Channahon, where the family has Kidz Korner Daycare, Joliet, Minooka, Morris and Shorewood. There are smaller containers at the Bridgeview Fire Department where Brayden’s father, Rick Haber, works, and at his part-time job, Advanced Critical Transport in Brookfield.

When they’re full, Rick brings the contents home. “Little man,” he said referring to Brayden, “crushes them up, and we have a blast.”

Last year they collected 2 ½ tons of tabs and cans, bringing their total to almost 30 tons in the past eight years.

Kelly said that for the last several years they have worked with Sims Recycling in West Chicago. The company matches whatever her family earns and cuts a check directly to Ronald McDonald Charities, doubling the donation.

America Recycles Day is Nov. 15. Each year, Will County hosts an America Recycles Day photo contest, said Marta Keane, the Land Use Department’s Recycling Specialist. The photos are judged by department staff.  

This year, a photo of Brayden sitting in a big container of pop tabs won them over, she said.

The Land Use Department is led by Director Curt Paddock and is under the County Executive’s office. Additional information about the Department and its activities can also be found at www.willcountygreen.com.

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