Pastor Dan's the can-do man

Dan Miller is Sandusky's "Can Man."
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


As pastor of First Baptist Church, Miller is always looking for ways to do good in the community.

"If a church isn't doing a thing to help the community, in my opinion, they should close their doors," he said. "We're not just here to worship, we're here to step out, do something for someone else."

While running along the city's streets, sidewalks and alleys, Miller spotted an opportunity in the form of discarded aluminum cans.

"I thought, 'Why not?'" he said. "Why not take advantage of what's right here and do good for others?"

Since New Year's Eve, Miller and his wife, Linda, have taken many walks and runs collecting cans and turning the 4-cents-a-can profit into hot meals for the poor and children's tuition for Christian day camps.

"Every penny we collect, we give it away," he said. "It all goes into our charity pool. I don't mind getting my hands dirty."

Five days a week, at about 8 a.m., he tosses on his well-worn running shoes and disappears on a new route.

Forty-five minutes later, he returns with a sturdy bag full of crushed aluminum cans. He counts them, puts them into bags of 50 and drops them off at the church. Friends deliver them to the scrap yard to be recycled.

"Thus far I've picked up 3,100 cans," Miller said. "It's pretty amazing."

Figuring out that 17 cans equal a pound, Miller estimated the heaviest load he's gathered weighed about 8 pounds.

"I was running on Monroe, past Lions Park," he said. "I filled up the bag I have, which usually fits 50, but I had it overflowing with 75. I found a plastic bag by the side of the road and filled that up, too. I had 150 cans. My arms were exhausted."

Martha Towney and her sister live along Monroe Street and said they've seen Miller running with his cloth bag, picking up his "treasures."

"He ran when there was snow and ice," Towney said. "I see him every week or so running, picking up those cans. I never realized what he was doing until now. Next time I see him, I may just run out there myself and help him out."

Monday night alone Miller found 78 cans after scouring road sides, bushes and trees.

"I always joke this project is killing me," he said, chuckling. "I've bent over 3,100 times to pick up a can. I'm losing a little weight. We've already brought in $120 this year. My goal is to collect 10,000 cans. I know once the summer starts, with all the tourists, there'll be more."

Miller said he's had some interesting runs, finding everything from rugby balls to a giant parachute.

"It's been a crazy few months, but it's good to be a little crazy," he said. "If everybody would recycle their cans in town, we wouldn't have a hunger problem," Miller said. "If you think about it, why not bend down for 4 cents to help someone else?"