VLE students collecting tabs for cancer patientsPublished 12:01am Friday, December 20, 2013
VIDALIA — Gabriella Naabe has been hounding her family lately looking for any and all aluminum can pull tabs within reach.
The Vidalia Lower Elementary kindergartner, along with all the other students at the school, have been helping kindergarten teacher’s assistant Lynn Leach collect the tiny pieces of metal to help pay for children’s cancer treatments.
Two years ago, Leach found out that employees at Jerry’s Store in Vidalia collected the tabs and gave them to certain hospitals that would exchange the donation for one free round of chemotherapy treatment for a child suffering of cancer.
Having a family member impacted by cancer, Leach knew the hardships the disease can cause on families especially those having to go through piles of medical bills.
Leach has been collecting the tabs for the last two years on her own and asked for her students’ help in August to help boost her numbers.
“I told them all I want for Christmas is for them to bring me the tabs,” Leach said. “It makes me cry every time they bring them to me — if it’s just one or a whole bag full.”
Since asking her students for help, Leach said she’s delivered between four and six gallon bags of the tabs to Jerry’s.
The increased amount is all thanks to Leach’s students, who she said have become quite the tab hunters around their houses.
“I’ve had parents tell me they’ve been walking around telling people to hurry up drinking their drink because they need the tab,” Leach said, laughing. “I told them that this was to help other boys and girls like them but who are sick to get better.
“All of them want to help them get better.”
Naabe, 6, said she’s been keeping a lookout for anybody drinking from an aluminum can in order to help other children like her get better.
“My family drinks a lot from cans, and we’ve just been saving up all we can,” Naabe said. “I want to be a nurse when I grow up, so I want all of those kids to get better.”
Jerry’s Store manager Angie Hollowell said she’s been collecting the tabs at the store for nearly nine years after finding out that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offered the trade.
“At first, we sent them all the St. Jude and they would pick the kids who would get the treatments, and then we found out there are other places that do it for local children,” Hollowell said. “So now we have a little girl in Natchez who is getting her treatments paid for, and we’re waiting to hear back from parents in Sicily Island, Jonesville and Monterey about hopefully getting it for their kids.”
Hollowell said she’s never once posted a flier or announced she’s collected the tabs, but that people have been continually dropping them off at the store for the past nine years.
“It’s just been all word-of-mouth, but we’re hoping to keep doing it as long as they take them,” Hollowell said. “As long as I’m breathing that’s the goal, to collect these to help the children.”
The tabs can be dropped off at Jerry’s Store on Carter Street or at Vidalia Lower Elementary.