ATLANTA (AP) — It would have been easy for Lance Dyer to let his grief create a wall between him and the outside world. But deep down, he knew that isn’t what his 14-year-old son would have done.
After Dakota Blaze Dyer died March 10, his father vowed that no other family should have to feel the pain, too deep to explain. Dakota had tried synthetic marijuana once, and then shot himself.
Now, it’s those drugs, even the legal ones, that Lance Dyer, of Bremen, wants to get off the street. And his plan to do it is already working. It turns out old metal mailboxes make perfect drop-off spots for people needing to dispose of pills.
“If just one handful of those pills prevent a child or parents from going through what we went through, it was a day well-spent,” Dyer told the AJC.
It’s not just a handful of pills that have been collected. A drop-off box placed at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office earlier this month collected at least 15,000 pills, including controlled substances, in just over two weeks. And the stash continues to grow.
Currently, there are eight drop-off boxes. The former U.S. Postal Service boxes have been painted red and have signs to indicate their purpose. But since word has spread about the project, Dyer said, he’s gotten requests for nearly 400 more.
“We want to have one in every county in the state of Georgia, and one in every major municipality, hopefully by the end of October,” Dyer, who runs his own business, told the AJC.
If the red boxes were to be stashed as far as Montana, he’d be thrilled, Dyer says. So far, supply isn’t meeting the demand.
The former mailboxes, damaged or taken out of service for another reason, were donated. “The Postal Service crushes these things, and we’ve gotten them to donate them to us,” Dyer said.
Re-purposing the boxes saves taxpayer money and police officer time and avoids having drugs flushed away and possibly contaminating water supplies downstream. Plus, it accomplishes a bigger purpose — keeping the items out of the wrong hands.
It’s his family’s way of giving back to law enforcement, too, Dyer says. And it’s a mission that he vows he’ll continue to tackle head-on, just like Dakota would’ve done. Dyer says his wife, Deanna, and three daughters are all part of the project.
“Bring the rain,” was one of Dakota’s favorite quotes from the Transformers movie, his father said.
And though nothing will bring his youngest child back, Dyer says the boy’s spirit lives on in his efforts against drugs. “You may not see him there, but he’s there.”
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