Georgia 4-H'ers Make Donation of More Than $97,000 by Collecting Pop Tabs

Henry County 4-H'ers collect pop tabs
Henry County 4-H'ers collected pop tabs to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia. Photo contributed

For the past 15 years, Georgia 4-H members have collected pop tabs to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia. So far, the students have collected over 160,005 pounds of the tiny tabs – 1 pound is about 1,500 pop tabs – for a total donation of $97,788.

“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, making new aluminum cans from recycled ones saves 92 percent of the energy required when making cans from bauxite ore,” said Lori Bledsoe (MAEXT – Agricultural Extension, ’96), Georgia 4-H Northwest District program coordinator. “So the students are doing community service and learning that recycling cuts down on waste.”

In addition to being a community service, pop tab collection counts as an element of 4-H’ers Project Achievement portfolios.

“I enjoy collecting (pop tabs) to support my 4-H Horse and Pony (project). I don't have a horse, but that doesn't make my love of horses and interest in 4-H any less. I know that what I do for 4-H makes a difference. It’s also fun having so many people in my family and so many friends helping me to collect. They learn about 4-H through me,” said Nina Heard, a fifth-grade 4-H’er in Cobb County, Georgia.

In 2016, 4-H members also collected personal care items to create “blessing bags” for families who stay in Ronald McDonald Houses. Families who are dealing with the illness of a child may forget to pack items like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes, she said.

“These service projects, which were designed by 4-H members, provide the students with the opportunity to exhibit generosity and benevolence,” Bledsoe said. “The comfort they provide to families is huge and that is why we do what we do. Each tab matters, so we continue collecting and promoting this project.”  

Georgia 4-H’ers have always helped within their communities by donating canned goods to local food pantries, but the effort became more organized in 2011 when the Southwest District began a program, Georgia 4-H Cans Hunger.

“We’ve done a lot of food drives in the past. The Southwest District led our statewide effort. Our goal now is to quantify,” said Georgia 4-H specialist Mandy Marable. “Four-H is growing better citizens. We are now encouraging our 4-H’ers to focus on healthy food drives to improve the selection of food available at food shelters and asking our 4-H’ers to help their communities understand that a food drive is not just a time to clean out your pantry.”

Georgia 4-H members are now encouraging the donation of foods that are low in fat, sugar and sodium.

“Most of our 4-H members are blessed and have food in their home pantries. We want to promote a healthy diet for everyone,” Marable said. “After all, we do pledge our health for better living. I hope that by the time I retire, we can quantify that Georgia 4-H has donated half a million cans.”

To donate pop tabs or canned foods, contact your local UGA Cooperative Extension office.