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Student collection goes to aid childhood burn victims

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
A tiny aluminum soda tab might seem useless to many, but not to Leslie Williams and her seventh grade classmates at Hartselle Junior High School.
And especially not to a Morgan County child who will someday receive treatment or a special treat at a Shriners of North America Hospital for Children.
Leslie, 12, made it her New Year's resolution to this year collect 20,000 aluminum tabs to donate to the Shriners Children's Hospital Burn Unit.
"The tabs help with medicines, medical help, and fun things like parties or stuffed animals," Leslie explained. "I had heard about the tab collection on television before and then my mom and I researched it on the internet. I thought it would be a cool thing for my family and I to do."
Several months into the project, Leslie had collected about 1,500 tabs by enlisting the help of her family and friends. She also found tabs from cans alongside the road, in ditches and trash cans.
"That was gross," Leslie recalled with a giggle.
Leslie and her mother decided to enlist further help in reaching the 20,000 tab goal by making it an outreach ministry at their church, Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran.
Then more help came when Leslie's seventh grade science teacher Lynne Welch at Hartselle Junior High School noticed Leslie saving the tiny scraps of aluminum.
"She told me about her project and I told her that we'd help," Welch said. "I made it a competition between each class period just to add some excitement. Leslie had about 4,000 tabs then and now there are almost 100,000."
Other HJHS students, F.E. Burleson Elementary and the Hartselle Board of Education Central Office also contributed hundred of tabs to the project.
Welch said her third period class won the competition with more than 45,000 tabs, but students Jesse Stephens, Savannah Chaney, Blake Holaway, Tyler Bennett, T.J. Perry and Matt McCutcheon made sizable donations on their own.
"Some of them had been saving the tabs for other projects, and some were saving them with no real purpose at all," Welch explained. "They also enlisted their relatives in other states and we received tabs from Tennessee, Georgia and Ohio. What impressed me the most was they worked so hard to help a fellow student."
The mounds of tabs are ready to ship to the Cahaba Shrine in Huntsville where they will remain until a child from Morgan County needs treatment at a Shriners Hospital Burn Unit. The tabs will then accompany them to the hospital and be redeemed for various needs.
However, Welch said HJHS students don't plan to stop collecting the tabs even though Leslie's goal has been met five times over.
"We're not going to stop," Welch said. "Someone, somewhere will be able to use them."
To contribute to the aluminum tab collection, call 773-1617 or 773-2121.