Staff at New Vision Renewable Energy in Barbour County have been making lights to send around the world for some time. But it wasn't until the last election cycle came by that they discovered the perfect material to use for the lights and the boxes they're sent in.
"We found Romney signs and Obama signs, and they were perfect. That's what got us going, because waste material is around the earth, and it seems like there's a better use for that stuff, called repurposing. So we're very gifted at repurposing whatever product we can to keep it valuable," said New Vision President Ruston Seaman.
Seaman and the staff at New Vision make the boxes themselves by cutting up old signs and duct-taping them into the proper shape, thanks in part to a donation from 3M. New Vision also holds events like the Party in the Dark at Alderson Broaddus University to put LED lights together for developing nations, using the same signs as backs. They pack the lights into briefcases and send those to countries where they're most needed.
"We use a mirrored film that goes on the top of the sign to make a light. These lights are going into developing countries around the world. So far we've made about fifteen-hundred lights and they're in 29 countries," Seaman said.
But the lights aren't the only useful parts of the package. The cases themselves can also provide people in those countries a way to store things, or even offer a way for kids to keep schoolwork safe.
"For people in a developing country who have yet to have their first light, even a box to put their family belongings, papers into, that kind of stuff. So we hope people won't just be throwing these away, but once they get the lights out and get them used, all of a sudden we can see school kids carrying their very first briefcase," said Seaman.
If you have old campaign signs you'd like to donate, contact New Vision Renewable Energy at (304) 457-2971 or check out their website here.