Keeping (and donating) tabs

Published 12:10 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

Lewisville Elementary School collects, donates 180 pounds of pop tabs to Ronald McDonald House

Small acts of kindness can go a long way. And when small acts of kindness gain some steam and bring in a larger group of people, it becomes a movement.
At Lewisville Elementary School, their movement was in tribute to one of their fellow students, a first grader named Maeson.
They call him “Mighty Maeson.”
And in Mighty Maeson’s honor, the school collected 180 pounds of pop tabs — yes, those aluminum things that open a can of soda or soup — and recently donated them to the Ronald McDonald House.
The Ronald McDonald House takes the pop tabs and recycles them and receives money, which they use to help offset expenses for families of children who are receiving medical care in the hospital. Families are able to utilize the Ronald McDonald House for lodging and use family rooms in the hospitals that provide more comfort than a normal waiting room.
“It’s a great way of showing kindness without costing anything to do it,” said Nora LaLlave, an Instructional Assistant at Lewisville Elementary. “We were just so excited to see the students get behind this project and have fun with it.”
It is LaLlave who hatched the idea.
She has been collecting pop tabs and donating them to the local Ronald McDonald House, just up the street from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on Hawthorne Road in Winston-Salem, for years.
“Our youngest grandson was born premature, and our family got to benefit from using the Ronald McDonald Suite right next to the NICU at the hospital,” LaLlave said. “He was born with club feet but I am happy to report that he is a very happy and active 7-year old now. But having something like the Ronald McDonald Suite to take advantage of when he was born was just such a relief for our family. We knew this was a worthwhile cause for our family to support, which is why we have been doing it for several years. It’s such a great way to give back.”
LaLlave said they have had a pop tab jar at the school for a few years but that it was never really a thing.
“I really wanted to do something that was community based at school this year, and then I found out that Mrs. Harp, our third grade AG (Academically Gifted) teacher, asked a math problem one day that pertained to pop tabs at the Ronald McDonald House. That prompted some more discussion, and five of the girls in her class decided they wanted to start collecting them. They went to the principal and asked if they could make posters to hang around the school. And once that happened, the other classes wanted to be a part of it too.”
The initiative launched in late September. Pretty soon, each class was weighing their collected pop tabs on a regular basis. They initially set a goal of collecting 150 pounds. There was a chart created to track their progress.
“We even set up a challenge that the class that collected the most got to have a doughnut party,” LaLlave said. “Well, we blew right past the 150 and donated 180 pounds so far. We never thought it would take off like it did. And our new goal is 200 pounds by June 1. One second grade class won the competition by collecting 25 pounds, and that was mostly because one of their grandmothers had been collecting pop tabs for a while and had about 20 pounds herself.”
LaLlave said it was a lot of fun to see the school community get so involved with it, not to mention the Lewisville community rallying behind the project, too.
“I was getting pop tabs from parents in the car rider lines every day,” she said with a laugh. “Local businesses were dropping off coffee cans filled with pop tabs. We had a jar outside the front door of the school for people to drop them off. A lot more people got involved and it was just so rewarding to see.”
LaLlave invited Caleb Gossett, the volunteer service manager at Ronald McDonald House, and Mindy Bloom, the chief development officer with the organization, to come and speak to Harp’s class about what they do with the pop tabs and to explain what the money was used for.
“Those students were so excited when they came out to talk to them,” LaLlave said. “They were asking them all kinds of questions and they came up with a bunch of new ideas, such as getting other schools in the area to help out and taking jars to restaurants to have filled up. Caleb and Mindy were in awe of all of these ideas from third graders. I just love that these students are learning at an early age how important it is to be able to give back and help others in need. And we had so much fun doing it.”