Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 17, 2013

Millionaires Club

AIS students’ efforts helping Ronald McDonald Houses

Jeff Riggs
The Athens Review

ATHENS — Tom Denton, who has led efforts to gather tabs from cans, continues the battle to provide housing for parents of children hospitalized while they are away from home.

Denton, who is a paraprofessional at Athens Intermediate School, has been collecting tabs for several years through the efforts of students who bring the tabs to him in gallon jugs and other containers. 

Denton’s tabs are taken to collection areas, such as scrap yards, where they are converted to cash for the Ronald McDonald Houses.

Denton has collected 2,130,450 tabs over the past five years from AIS families and students.

But, just how much cash is gained?  Denton said a gallon jug container can hold an estimated 4,000 tabs. That, he said, is worth about 25 cents.

“You don’t really know how much money is involved in one jug,” he said. “I estimate about 25 cents.  You have to have a lot to make anything.  I send all the money to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Dallas.”

Tabs are collected and counted at AIS  every quarter of the year.

“I collect them, bag them up in Wal-Mart bags and I count them,” Denton said. “The students usually bring them in milk jugs, coffee cans or other containers.  We’re in concert with other schools, church organizations and civic organizations.  The total amount turns out to be a lot.”

Denton said the vast majority of children get involved in the program. He said preparing the children for the activity of collecting tabs is not really a big problem.

“We talk about it with them and tell them why they are doing it,” Denton said. “The kids feel like they are being helpful.  They love it.  And, we give them a little brag on the intercom system. It’s an activity that has been kind of a booster to these kids.  It excites them and motivates them. Some students bring in 200,000 at a time from one family. Their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts save them, as well as church organizations.”

Denton has been with the school district as a paraprofessional for the past 10 years. They have completed their fifth year of collections at AIS.

In 2009, a new 58-bedroom Ronald McDonald House opened to help provide service to many families in need.