By: Jessica Guay

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Police departments in the area marked another successful National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The program in Shaler Township was spearheaded 10 years ago by a couple who lost their son to a drug overdose.

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“So many families are ripped apart by these medications that are out there, and I don’t even want to call them medications, they’re drugs. That’s what they are, they are evil drugs,” said Norma Hufnagel.

Norma and Dave Hufnagel’s son, David Junior, overdosed in 2007 but his story did not end there. They turned their grief and sadness into motivation and hope.

“He got a bad batch of heroin and he passed away. We as mother and father, we decided now we can wallow in this or we can make a change and we decided to make a change,” said Hufnagel.

In 2011, the Etna couple courageously launched the first drug take-back program in their community with the Shaler Township Police Department.

Every year for the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, they collect unused, unwanted, and expired prescriptions at the Shaler North Hills Library.

On Saturday, Shaler Township Police Department, and police departments all over the country participated in the DEA’s initiative.

They collected 296 pounds of unused medications at Shaler North Hills Library.

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“You need to clean out your medicine cabinets. It is very important, whether you have small children, no children, or big grown children. If they want the medication, they will look for it, and believe it or not, it is right in your own home,” Hufnagel said.

They hope this initiative will reduce the chances of prescription drugs feeding an addiction or causing an overdose.

“They ruin families, they ruin communities, they ruin lives, and this is not just something that affects the person that’s using. It is very devastating,” Hufnagel said.

Over the last 10 years, Shaler Township’s program has collected and properly disposed of 7,681 pounds of prescriptions.

The Hufnagel’s will keep spreading hope for families with David always on their minds.

“It makes me feel good, it really does. We advertise and we tell our story wherever we can, and we try to help others that are in the same situation that we were in and help them try to get help for their loved ones,” said Hufnagel.

If you couldn’t make it to the collection event Saturday, there is a prescription drug take-back box in the lobby of the Shaler Township Police Department.

Residents can drop off prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. Regular collection hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Arrangements may be made for after-hours by calling 412-492-2222.