GREENE COUNTY - A new prescription drug box will soon be at the Greene County Justice Center for people to drop off their unwanted and unused medicines.
Shannon Ruiz, from Lenoir County, is the woman who made it all happen. Ruiz said her life's mission is to promote awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, in memory of her daughter.
"One week after I buried my daughter, I was driving to work and I just said, 'Okay, God,' what do you want me to do with this,'" Ruiz told NewsChannel 12.
Her daughter, Kaitlyn Rouse, was in the eighth grade when she was prescribed pain pills after a cheerleading injury. Ruiz said Kaitlyn developed an addiction to pain pills.
On June 21, 2011, at the age of 16, a lethal combination of Xanex and a fentanyl patch caused Kaitlyn to collapse. In less than five hours, she was pronounced brain dead.
"I just knew I needed to take this tragedy and save someone else's child," said Ruiz.
In May 2012, she decided she wanted to honor Kaitlyn's memory by starting the PEACE Foundation, which stands for Prescription Education Abuse Counseling Empowerment. Through the foundation, Ruiz has helped place drug boxes in Lenoir, Duplin and Jones County. Last Thursday, Greene County commissioners voted to install one at their Justice Center.
Ruiz said her goal is to make sure every county has at least one box.
Officials at the Kinston Department of Public Safety said their drug box is very effective, collecting 30 pounds of drugs a month.
Ruiz said the average age of a child attempting to get high on prescription drugs is 9 years old in Lenoir County.
"These children need to be educated because literally, what they don't know will hurt them and what they don't know will kill them," she said.