Students at St. Frances de Chantal School have played an important role in helping families of children stricken with illness.
The school, in collaboration with the Ronald McDonald House, collected a million beverage can tabs as part of the charity’s Pop Tab Program.
The program required people to collect tabs from the tops of beverage cans and bring them to the charity to recycle and to raise both awareness and money.
Ronald McDonald House’s Greater Hudson Valley held a party for the school’s children to celebrate the milestone on Tuesday, June 6.
At the event, McDonald’s character Ronald McDonald visited with the children and took pictures with each class.
The million tabs, which were collected from students since 2010 by fourth grade teacher Melissa Dean Minuto and her mother Terry Dean, a retired teacher at St. Frances, were donated to the charity, which sells the metal.
The charity houses families of children at no charge who are undergoing medical treatment over 40 miles from their home.
The party is not the first reward the children have received for collecting the commonplace household item, said Minuto.
“Every year, I give the class that raises the most tabs a party,” said Minuto at the event. “We were waiting for this million and now we have finally reached it.”
Minuto said she has also purchased gift cards for the individual child that collected the most tabs in a school year.
The teacher said she first began collecting tabs for the charity in 1999, when she was a student at Preston High School and one of the school’s families stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.
Her mom Terry Dean took part in that beverage can tab drive and others before embarking on this ongoing one at St. Frances with her daughter over the past seven years.
She said that she used to incorporate counting tabs as part of a math lesson for the children in her second grade class, adding that the youngsters also learn about sharing, caring and helping others.
“I would tell them all about the Ronald McDonald House, and how their children were sick and the parents would get to stay in the Ronald McDonald House,” said Dean.
The can tabs are something the children can ask their families for easily, and it does not cost any money, said Minuto.
“It is just something that they have at home,” said Minuto, adding “They can be proud to come to school with the next day.”
The money from the sale of the metal may amount to one or two thousand extra dollars for the charity, but far more important is the awareness it raises, said Terence Hughes, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Greater Hudson Valley.
It may also encourage the children in future philanthropic endeavors as they mature, said Hughes at the school party.
“It may plant a seed in their head,” said Hughes, adding “we never know, we may have a philanthropist amongst us in the audience, so we are so happy to do this.”