Salisbury police unveil collection box for old flags

DAVE ROGERS/Staff photo A newly painted box for the disposal of worn U.S. flags has been placed outside the Salisbury police station.

SALISBURY — What to do with frayed and tattered American flags can present a challenge for those looking to dispose of them in a respectful manner. 

And while area residents could drop them off at the Newburyport and Amesbury Veterans Agent offices, there wasn't a place for Salisbury residents to do the same locally.

But that changed Tuesday when a flag recycling box was placed outside the Salisbury police station off Beach Road. The box was donated by the Newburyport post office two years ago and then refurbished by local businesses, according to Sgt. James Leavitt, who spearheaded the project.

"It's amazing, the response we've had for it," Leavitt said Thursday morning. 

Not only have people begun dropping off flags, but a photo of the former mailbox posted on the department's Facebook page already has more than 1,000 likes. 

"I think it's a great idea," Salisbury Veterans Agent Kevin Hunt said. "It's just that much less that we have to do, and we know they'll be disposed of properly."

Hunt, who serves as veterans agent for Amesbury, Merrimac and Newburyport as well, said people regularly stop by one of his offices asking how they can properly dispose of American flags.

Flags can be dropped off at the Newburyport and Amesbury offices, where they will then be sent to an area crematorium. Smaller flags, such as the type placed in cemeteries, can be thrown in the trash, he added. 

Flags collected at the Salisbury police station will be handed over to area Boy Scout troops or the American Legion, Leavitt said. 

The idea for the box came back in early 2017 when a resident walked into the police station to ask how he could dispose of an old flag.

That sparked Leavitt, a veteran himself, into action. He soon began asking around and learned through a friend that there were old mailboxes in the Newburyport post office's basement.

When asked if the post office could spare one, employees there were glad to help, according to Leavitt. 

The box was brought to Chris DeLuca of Chris Auto Body, where it was given a fresh paint job. Additional work was done at Creative Touch Designs. Both are Salisbury businesses. 

"We were just waiting for the decals," Leavitt said. 

In addition to respecting the American flag as much as possible, the project was a great way to serve the public. 

"It's a good community project," Leavitt said. 

Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.