In this era of Facebook and the Internet, it can be pretty hard to lose touch with old friends. However, there are a few old friends who I have, for whatever reason, lost touch with over the years. This week, I learned of a devastating tragedy that has affected one such friend, Amy. Amy was a good friend of mine in high school, but I have not seen or talked to her since. I learned this week that her seven-year-old son, Liam, was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2010, and after over a year of treatments, he passed away this past week.
Now that I have children, I know just how much a parent can love a child. I really believe this is something you cannot truly understand until you have a child of your own. That love is the greatest gift in the world. But even though I understand the love, I cannot possibly understand the unimaginable heartache that Amy and her family have gone through since that diagnosis. My heart is broken for them.
When I learned of Liam’s passing, I read his story on the family’s Caring Bridge site. One of the most striking things about the family’s journey is that Liam really could not be treated in their hometown of Abilene. For many months, Liam was treated at Cook’s Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, and the family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. They later spent time at St. Jude.
It is in my nature to want to do something to help when tragedy strikes. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do for Liam any more. But, I realized that there are many, many other families out there with sick children who rely on the Ronald McDonald House who could use our help. I immediately went to the website for the Dallas Ronald McDonald House. (I realize that Liam and his family likely stayed at the Fort Worth Ronald McDonald House, but for practical reason we chose the Dallas one.)
Once on the site, I learned that one major fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House is to collect pop tabs. According to the site, “The tab of an aluminum can is pure aluminum unlike the rest of the can, which contains paint and other residue. Recycling the tabs generates proceeds to donate to a local Ronald McDonald House. The tabs do not pay for treatment or night stays — only house operations. Hundreds of thousands of pop tabs have been collected to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses.”
In honor of Liam, Abby and I decided to collect pop tabs for the remainder of the school year. Although I do drink a ridiculous amount of Diet Dr Pepper, I realize that I probably cannot make too much of an impact with my pop tabs alone. (And, at our house, soda is a “grown up drink,” so Abby is not allowed to drink it.”) In our attempt to make a larger impact, we decided to enlist the help of my kids’ preschool in collecting the pop tabs. I discussed it with the preschool director, and she said absolutely we could collect pop tabs. So, Abby and I spent Sunday creating jugs for the kids at preschool to put pop tabs in. Here is a picture of Abby carefully decorating the labels for the jugs. (Each class is designated as an animal, so she made labels for the Bunnies, Bears, Frogs, Monkeys (her class), Tigers and Cheetahs.)
We also put the Ronald McDonald House logo onto each of the jugs. Here are the finished jugs, ready to go…
Abby had the best time finding all of my old Diet Dr Pepper cans and breaking off the tabs to put them in the jugs. She wanted to be sure each jug already had tabs in it, so the other kids would know what we were talking about. On Sunday night, she begged me to drink all twelve remaining cans of Diet Dr Pepper so she could put more tabs in. We compromised on one.
Yesterday, we took the jugs to the preschool. Abby gave a jug to each of the teachers, and we gave the director a big stack of fliers describing the project. This morning when we went to preschool, I was so excited to see that each class had the jug sitting outside the entry to the class, along with the flier. The director told me that each afternoon, Abby would help her put the jugs away, and each morning, the director would put them back out. It is so exciting to get other people involved in our project like this! It will certainly be interesting to see how many pop tabs we are able to collect. Hopefully a lot!
When the school year is over, Abby and I will deliver all of the pop tabs to the Dallas Ronald McDonald House. While there, I plan to ask for a tour so Abby (and I) can see just what our project is benefitting. I hadn’t really looked in to the Ronald McDonald House before, and I was stunned when I saw the website. It is huge and spectacular! I am very excited to see it in person in a few months.
If you happen to live near me and want to collect pop tabs to add to our collection, please do! It’s such an easy project if you drink soda at your house. Just let me know and we’ll come collect them from you! (UPDATE: To see how it all turned out, check out the post here.)