Daniel Schultz, son of Robert and Elizabeth Schultz of Polk City, enjoys taking things apart. Due to a genetic abnormality roughly 400 people in the world have, Daniel cannot put the items back together.

To help supply Daniel with items he can take apart, while also allowing him to earn some money, the public is being asked to donate old electronic devices - VCRs, printers, telephones, etc. - to the Green, Recycled Technology project.

Daniel’s desire to work

While Daniel has physical and mental limitations, his genetic abnormality also causes him to easily be distracted, Robert said, making it hard for him to work at places where there is a lot going on around him.

Daniel previously worked at Maytag in Newton. When the company closed, he was left without a job. He later moved to a facility where his daily routine included working out several times a day, which kept him busy, but he missed having a job.

"For him, work is a big thing; he loves to work," Robert said. It was during this time that Daniel would often ask his father when he was going to go back to work again.

In recent years, Daniel’s parents have learned their son likes to take things apart. A circuit board was in his bedroom and Daniel found a way to take out the fuses, causing the power to go out. After this happened, a lock was placed on the circuit board, but Daniel found a way to get around the lock. Wanting to get Daniel something he could take apart that would not cause any problems, Robert bought an old VCR from a second-hand store. It took Daniel one day to completely take apart the device, neatly placing the screws, shell and other components in separate piles.

When Robert visited Daniel the following week, Daniel asked for another VCR to take apart. So for the next couple of years, Daniel would purchase old VCRs from second-hand stores on a regular basis, just to take them apart and throw away the pieces.

"This just didn’t seem to be a very productive system," Robert said.

The birth of Green, Recycled Technology

A few weeks ago, Polk City had their annual curb-side clean up day, during which residents can get rid of items they do not need. Suddenly, "a light bulb came on" for Robert. He called the Polk City public works director and asked if about one dozen VCRs could be set aside for Daniel to take apart. Then, a family friend of the Schultz’ said he would pay Daniel to give him the circuit boards from the electronic devices Daniel takes apart. The gold, silver and copper from the circuit boards are taken out and recycled. Robert decided to call the project Green, Recycled Technology because he hopes the name will get people’s attention and the project provides a use for old electronics.

Since he just put word out about the project, no electronic devices have been donated yet. Robert said he would like to get enough donated electronic devices to keep Daniel busy with things to take apart. It would even better if there were so many things donated that other individuals similar to Daniel could earn money for taking donated items apart.

"There are two times when you’ll see his big smile - when he’s taking things apart and when he gets the money for the circuit boards," Robert said of his son.

For now, the remaining pieces of the devices Daniel takes apart are thrown away. Robert hopes they can find a use for these pieces or somewhere they can be recycled.

Those interested in donating old electronic devices to the Green, Recycled Technology project may do so by contacting Robert Schultz at 515-238-9031. Television sets and computer monitors are not being accepted due to the dangers they pose.