Safe Kids Wayne County and the Goldsboro Police Department are teaming up to help clear the community of expired, unwanted or unused medication.

Starting March 18, Goldsboro police and members of the Safe Kids coalition will collect unused or expired medication during the annual Operation Medicine Drop in recognition of national poison prevention week. Families are encouraged to clear out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of old medications.

“A lot of times, if you open your medicine cabinet, there are things in there that you bought a year ago, two years ago, and everything gets pushed to the back — including dangerous medications that, if they end up in the wrong hands, can do quite a bit of damage,” said Shelly Willis, Safe Kids coordinator.

Safe Kids provides a safe, confidential and secure way for people to dispose of medication without the possibility of that medication getting into the wrong hands, Willis said. Operation Medicine Drop accepts any and all medications, including prescription, over the counter, ointments, cough syrups, serums, patches, veterinary medication and even unknown medicines such as loose pills or unlabeled bottles.

“We do these take-back events around the community so we can get families to clean out those medicine cabinets so we can dispose of those medications properly,” Willis said. “A lot of times families will throw medication in the trash or flush them down the toilet, and that’s not proper disposal. It can lead to contamination of waterways, and they could still end up in the wrong hands.”

People are encouraged to drop off old medications at one of the four locations and times starting March 18, Willis said. If people are concerned about confidentiality, she said a marker is provided to cross out names on labels. Willis does ask people to leave the medication’s name for identification purposes.

People can take their old unwanted medication to one of four drop-off locations: Wayne Community College, Wayne Learning Center Seminar Room, 3000 Wayne Memorial Drive, March 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.; Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center, 2001 E. Ash St., March 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Walgreens, 2602 E. Ash St., March 19 from 1 to 3 p.m.; and Wayne UNC Health Care, 2700 Wayne Memorial Drive, March 22 from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Once the medication is dropped off, Safe Kids and pharmacy technician students from Wayne Community College and employees from Walgreens Pharmacy and Wayne UNC Health Care count, identify and log the medications. From there, the State Bureau of Investigation takes the medication and incinerates it. Last year, Safe Kids logged 157,736 units of medication, Willis said.