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Keeping tabs on fundraiser in Hahntown Elementary

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 1:00 p.m.

It's hard to keep tabs on how much money Tara Nickolls' second-grade class at Hahntown Elementary School is raising for the Ronald McDonald House.

Her pupils are collecting soda can tabs that can be recycled. The money earned by the tabs will be donated to the McDonald's charity, Nickolls says.

By encouraging students in other classrooms to participate, they have been able to fill two large plastic tubs -- and are ready to start filling a third one.

Once a week, the second-graders pick up the tabs left in containers outside each classroom throughout the school.

The response has been more than the second-graders expected.

"Now it's a huge display in the front of our classroom," Nickolls says.

The idea grew out of a unit in a new reading series. The children read five stories in which the characters helped in the community, such as picking up trash and recycling.

Nickolls says the class wanted to make a contribution to the community, even though it might be a small effort. "One girl in the class collects pop tops at home," Nickolls says, explaining the inspiration for the project.

They discovered that Ronald McDonald House Charities in Pittsburgh recycles the tabs to help support its efforts to provide a "home away from home" for the families of seriously ill children receiving medical treatment at area hospitals. There is a converted mansion in Shadyside and also apartments that house the families.

However, Nickolls plans to take the tabs to a local recycler, then send a check to the charity.

The state of the economy has even trickled down to the Hahntown classroom. There is not as great a need for recyclables with a decline in manufacturing because of the recession.

"Because the economy changed, it's not going to be worth as much," Nickolls says.

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