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Students put the fizz in fundraising

Students at High Point Elementary collect 36 1-gallon jugs of soda can tabs for Shriners hospitals.

By LORRI HELFAND

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 6, 2000


LARGO -- High Point Elementary students learned the value of helping other kids this month.

They did it by collecting soda can tabs for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

"It was hard work," said third-grader Kimberly Lady, 9, who was in the class that collected the most tabs. "We had to drink a lot of soda."

Spearheaded by kindergarten teacher Jan Brown, students at High Point Elementary collected 36 1-gallon jugs of soda can tabs for the Shriners Hospitals, which provide free medical care for children with severe burns and congenital deformities. The tabs will be turned over to the Ladies Oriental Shrine, which uses the funds from recycled tabs to buy games, toiletries and other items for children at Shriners hospitals throughout the country.

High Point Elementary students are sure to have sweet memories of helping others. For their good deeds, Brown treated them to ice cream sundaes smothered with chocolate and caramel syrup and candy sprinkles.

Brown said she wanted to reward the kids with "stuff they don't always get at home."

The tab collection project was started by the New Florida Region Model A Restorers Club, which has several members who are also Shriners. For two years the club has collected tabs, last year collecting 11 gallons and this year, 15 gallons.

In one month, the elementary students blew them away.

"I think that's marvelous. I'm just amazed," said Louise Hood, Ladies Oriental Shrine recorder. The going rate, according to Hood, is 32 cents a pound. "That's not a lot, but it sure helps out."

Jim Kaphingst, Restorers Club president, said the students' effort was exceptional. "Two cases of can tabs will fit in the palm of your hand," he said. So you can imagine, he said, how many tabs it must take to fill 36 milk jugs.

Brown said she took on the project because it was "a great way to teach our children that there are many ways to help others."

A member of the Restorers Club, Brown got the idea a couple of months ago. She approached principal Archie Miller and then typed up letters to parents and teachers to get the project rolling.

Every class in the school is getting ice cream this week to celebrate. While most classes get ice cream cups, the three classes that collected the most tabs get to make their own sundaes.

Initially, ice cream was planned in only the top three classes. But Kimberly's mother, Debbie Lady, a High Point plant operator, didn't want to leave anyone out. Mrs. Lady donated her own money for treats for the other kids. The Restorers Club heard of her plan and insisted on footing the bill for all the goodies, reimbursing Mrs. Lady for her expenses.

"The boys and girls like a healthy competition," said fourth-grade teacher Evelyn Graham.

Stephanie Dey, 10, a fourth-grader in the third-place class, said she enjoyed collecting tabs. "It feels good because you're doing it for a good cause."

Billy Glessner, 10, called his relatives in Pennsylvania and brought in 21/2 jugs on his own.

The project went so well that Brown plans to run the contest all year next school year. She also encouraged her husband, Bill, a fifth-grade teacher at Tyrone Elementary, to do the same.

"We were absolutely amazed how it took off," principal Archie Miller said. "We have good kids with good hearts, and this is a good example of what they can do."

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