Valdosta - Every year, freshmen at Valdosta State University collect aluminum drink can tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House.
"I did it as a freshman, we brought in little baggies. It was never a big deal. It was something on the side," says Mary Beth Kennedy, a Junior at VSU and a Peer Mentor to the Freshman class.
When the freshman class began collecting tabs this year, they found out a fellow student's 12-year-old brother, James, had just been diagnosed with acute leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells. "He's gone from being extremely active to basically having to lie in bed. So it's really worn on him a lot," says freshman David Bell.
Adding a face to the project inspired the class to be more active in their tab collection. "I know with my class, it's something we focus on daily, walking down the street, tab! Now we know where it's going for. It has value now," Kennedy adds.
Soon, tabs were flowing in from Valdosta to Lakeland and Adel. Only two months into the collection, and they've collected almost 40 gallons worth of tabs. "When I was shown that 33 gallon tub, I about hit the floor. I was a little shaky to be quite honest because that's a lot of coke tabs!" Bell exclaims.
They say each gallon of tabs is equivalent to one chemotherapy session or one session of dialysis and plan to cash them in shortly for David's family. "David's brother James will start chemo in two weeks, so they're going to need whatever they can get," Kennedy says.
Any donated tabs can be dropped off at the University Center on North Patterson Street in Valdosta. They hope to collect another 40 gallons by Christmas.