Each year, Howard County contributes millions of pop tabs to a drive held on Monument Square for the Ronald McDonald House – but this year’s drive was canceled due to COVID-19.
But Jerry Paul, the organizer of the local “One Child, One Veteran, 1 Million Tabs” program, reminded the community that the program still is going on. While he was unable to pick up the tabs from schools in the spring due to COVID-19, he encouraged people to keep adding to them.
“Remind yourself when you’re taking off an aluminum lid or a pop tab to give it to your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews to take to their school,” Paul said.
Participating Howard County schools are Eastern, Western, Northwestern, and Kokomo. For those who don’t have relatives or friends in school to add to their collection, tabs can be dropped off at VFW Post 1152 at 920 N. Washington St.
Though the majority of the pop tabs, which come from the schools, weren’t able to be collected this year, Paul received a donation of approximately 600,000 tabs from veterans who donated during the annual Vietnam Veterans Reunion.
Combined with some other donations, Paul plans to deliver the approximately 1.5 million tabs he has on hand now to the Ronald McDonald house. Typically, Howard County donates more than 3 million tabs. Now in its 17th year, the program has donated over 52 million tabs.
“As far as we know, it’s the largest pop tab donation for the Ronald McDonald House in the state of Indiana,” Paul said.
In addition to tabs from pop cans and beer, Paul reminded people that tabs from soup, dog and cat food, and the like also are accepted.
Over the year, the collection has instilled a sense of pride in area children who contribute, Paul said.
“It teaches kids in our community to recycle, and not only are you recycling and saving our natural resources, but you’re also helping kids whose parents might not be able to afford a place to stay when they go down there (to the Ronald McDonald House). So you’re helping your peer group, and you’re helping your community. You’re learning about giving back, and you’re never too young to learn to give back to your community,” he said.
According to the Ronald McDonald House of Indiana, funds received statewide from the collection typically add up to between $30,000 and $50,000 annually. The money goes toward operating expenses and can cover the cost of operating three rooms in the Ronald McDonald House for an entire year.