Whitman-Hanson grad collected 24k bottles and cans, donated proceeds to school’s Best Buddies program

WHITMAN, Mass. — Riley Miller spends a lot of his free time collecting bottles and cans.

“Me and my father, we do it every weekend and we do it by hand, into the machine one by one,” Miller said.

Riley is 19-years-old and has Down syndrome. He graduated from Whitman-Hanson Regional High School last spring and is now enrolled in the school’s post-graduate program.

He has collected 24,000 bottles and cans and recycles them at a local market. Riley has made two donations to the school’s Best Buddies program totaling more than $1,200. The money goes to help support activities the program puts on.

“He loves it, it’s a little bit of financial literacy, it’s a little bit of philanthropy and he has fun doing it,” said Thom Miller, Riley’s father.

Riley is co-president of the high school’s Best Buddies program. The program’s main purpose is to pair-up students, with and without disabilities, to help break through social barriers and to be there as a friend. Riley’s best buddy is Jack Dunn, a junior at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School.

“Before COVID, we were able to go to bowling alleys and Celtics games,” Dunn said.

Riley is so passionate that friends, neighbors and even strangers will donate trash bags full of bottles and cans and leave them on the Miller’s driveway for Riley to redeem.

“It’s been rewarding for him, it’s been rewarding to us as a family knowing that he has this philanthropic side to him and he’s a good kid and likes to have fun and give back,” said Thom Miller.

Thom said it’s not unusual for him and Riley to recycle 600 or 700 bottles at a time on a Saturday morning. Riley is now working on collecting for his next donation later this spring.