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Fundraiser to aid Ronald McDonald House
Albert Harris students collecting soft drink tabs to benefit charity
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Counting soft drink can tabs are (from left) Albert Harris Elementary School students Nigel Davis, Ty’Mear Thompson and DaJonnae Koger. The students are collecting the tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Virginia. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)

Monday, March 30, 2009

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Students and teachers at Albert Harris Elementary School in Martinsville are collecting soft drink can tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Virginia.

Stephanie Watts, a second-grade teacher, estimated that the school has collected about 10 pounds of tabs since the project started in October.

That does not equate to much money. Aluminum currently is worth about 28 cents per pound, so the schools' tabs are worth about $2.80, she said.

But the school is going to keep collecting the tabs, which are used to open drink cans, at least through next year. The more tabs they collect, the more money they can raise for the Ronald McDonald House, and Watts said they hope the value of aluminum rises so they can raise more money.

Donations of tabs from the public are welcome, she said - just bring them by the school's office.

Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide are linked to many major hospitals. The houses provide temporary lodging, at little or no cost, to families of patients in the hospitals so the families do not incur the expense of traveling back and forth many miles, as well as hefty motel bills.

The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Virginia serves the families of patients at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Former Albert Harris teacher Amy Mateer and her husband, Brian, stayed there last year when their 16-month-old twins, Kylie and Mackenzie, were born 7 1/2 weeks early and were in intensive care for five weeks.

"It was awesome," Amy Mateer said of the house. "There was always a friendly face to talk to," and three meals a day were available to families.

"It was as close as you can get to home without actually being at home," she added.

Collecting can tabs is a project of Ronald McDonald Houses. Mateer said the Roanoke house receives about $4,000 per year from tab collections.

At Albert Harris, collecting tabs started as a project in Watts' class, then spread to include each of the five second-grade classes at the school.

Plans are to expand the project among the entire school.

DaJonnae Koger has been especially active in collecting tabs, Watts said, noting that the second-grader "usually brings in a couple of cookie tins full" every month.

Koger, the daughter of LaFonza and Nyree Koger, said she enjoys helping the Ronald McDonald House "so people can stay with their babies and don't have to drive a long way" home.

Brian Mateer, who is the youth pastor at First United Methodist Church in Martinsville, said the church also is collecting tabs for the Ronald McDonald House.

"We've taken several large boxes" of tabs to Roanoke so far, he said.

 

 
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