Turning Bottles Into Candles To Serve The Syracuse Community

By Hannah Fleager SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — At the Rescue Mission in downtown Syracuse, a group of students from Syracuse University are turning used beer and wine bottles into candles. Their service project is called Rescue Glass.

Rescue Glass is a social entrepreneurship project that fits under the ENACTUS umbrella. ENACTUS is an organization based out of the Whitman School of Management.

“And we have over 10 projects, different social entrepreneurship projects, benefitting a bunch of different causes,” said Serena DeSeta, the leader of the Rescue Glass project. “So everything from the women of Guatemala where we have a program where we sell hand woven products made by Guatemalan women and send it back to them in forms of scholarships for girls to my project which is very locally based which benefits the Rescue Mission of Syracuse.”

This project started out as a way to create drinking glasses out of old bottles. Then, at one point the organization was creating lamps. Finally, students landed on the idea of candles. Serena DeSeta has been with the project for the past three years. She has seen it through all of its many phases, and has also seen the candle making process evolve into what it is today.

“Each month our team goes into the Syracuse area and collects wine bottles and beer bottles, used. Then we employ two rescue mission clients that cut clean and sand these bottles. So, then we sort of have this basin of what looks like a candle base and then we fill it with wax, we scent it, we put the wick in, and then we label it and market it, just in a way that tells our story,” DeSeta said.

Proceeds from the candles go back to the Rescue Mission to help serve members of the Syracuse community.

Syracuse is one of the most underprivileged and underserved cities in America. DeSeta explains how there are many ways to get involved in the community surrounding campus.

“This general Syracuse area is such a big part of our community and is really our home. So, definitely I would encourage people to get off campus, see where you can help. There’s a lot of need here in this area,” DeSeta said.

Ultimately the students of ENACTUS are hoping to turn the Rescue Glass project into a ready to work program for the Rescue Mission clients. “So they make these awesome candles, and we can market them for them and sell them so it becomes a whole ready to work program.” DeSeta said.

Being a part of ENACTUS and watching Rescue Glass grow into what it is today has shown DeSeta that anyone can make a difference. “It’s showing me and I think a lot of students that come through ENACTUS, that if you set your heart on something and really want to do, make a difference you can,” DeSeta said.

Keep your eyes on the look out for Rescue Glass candles as they go on sale for the first time during Family Weekend at Syracuse University.