I met her there, on the transplant floor (liver and kidney) where she sat, her eyes full of a sadness I couldn’t quite place, next to her son. The second of her three children to lay in a bed just like that one, all suffering the same rare genetic liver disease. The guilt was written all over her face – she hadn’t known that she and her husband were carriers for this disease – it hadn’t occurred to her to be tested. Not until later – much later, after her first son required a liver transplant.

I had her during my clinicals that week, so I spent a good deal of time with her. They lived in some BumFuck Southern town, temporarily moving to Chicago where the premiere doctor who treated this particular liver disease practiced. She and her husband and their other kids, moved, where so many do, into the Ronald McDonald house attached to the hospital I’d been volunteered to rotate through.

A student nurse then, the horror of a hospital – a big, beautiful, wonderful, cheerful hospital – that treated only children, her eyes haunted me long after I’d stopped being their nurse.

Their son, he was three at the time, I think, and while he was bloated, sorta like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka, he bore enough of a resemblance to my own tiny son that I couldn’t help but see him every time I administered medication or checked his vitals.

We walked past the house a couple of times. Visiting the dialysis center. Other offsite clinical stuffs. It was there. The logo was similar to that of my most favorite fast-food joint – McDonald’s – and I thought, each time, of the families who had to live there, while they waited to see if their children could be cured.

It was an honor to have been placed there – Children’s Memorial Hospital – and I was one of six lucky recipients.

In a twist of fate no one could’ve foreseen, my daughter, not even a glimmer in my eye at that time, had her neurosurgery at a branch of the very same hospital. She wore the same gown that all of my patients back then did, making me feel as though I’d somehow walked into an alternate universe.

I’m close enough now to Children’s Memorial that I didn’t have to stay at the Ronald McDonald house when she was born so sick. Or when she had to be readmitted for her surgery.

But I never forgot.

I never forgot what an amazing place the Ronald McDonald House was. When I think of it even today, I am reminded of the woman with the sick boys, who harkened from BumFuck, USA, living in the Great Big City of Chicago while she awaited her son’s fate.

My friend Paula, another transplant mom, who I happened to meet through this very blog (who also works with me now, on Band Back Together), began something a couple of months ago. She inspired me.

She’s been collecting pop-tops to donate to the Ronald McDonald house (not the same one that I’ve been to). She inspired me to do the same.

And now I ask you, My Pranksters, to consider helping me with this.

McDonald’s Corporate HQ is about thirty minutes from my house and I plan to collect as many pop-tabs as I can to donate to their charity.

If you’d like to join me, (PLEASE?!), you can collect these pop-tabs and drop them off at your OWN Ronald McDonald House, or you can send them directly to me.

Email me: becky.harks@gmail.com for my address.

Time to use The Internet for some good.

P.S. If I get enough pop-tabs, I will totally do something random for you on a dare. Like go out in public in jeggings or something. YOU PICK THE DARE.

Also: if you’re participating, go ahead and link up, yo!

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

40 Responses to Pop-Tabs for Charity (Not QUITE As Rad As Pop-TARTS).

  • Amber says:

    We don’t drink soda, so we rarely have pop tabs, but this is a lovely idea, so I’ll post it on my facebook page. Maybe some people there will read it and participate.

  • Angie says:

    I’m willing to send some. E-mailed you.

  • Mayor Gia says:

    Ah, what a good idea! You’re very serious/thought-provoking/sweet this week, Aunt Becky.

  • Paula says:

    I’m not sure where the link up is, so I put the link to my blog post about it in my info on this post. Since November I’ve been collecting pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh. It will be our home away from home once Anna gets her transplant.

  • Sadly we don’t drink soda or anything else in a can. But I’ll spread the word among the family and at work. Much success AB! Thanks for the idea!

  • red says:

    how long will this be going on? I don’t have anything in cans at home right now, but am not opposed to start, and you can have the tabs. (I don’t think there’s a Ronald McDonald House within 100 miles of me.)

  • Vicky says:

    My son’s school is collecting Pop Tops for our local Ronald McDonald house!

  • Lindsey says:

    Great, here’s yet another reason why I can’t stop drinking my Cokes. :) Thank you for posting this. I’ll email you to find out where to send the pop tops.

  • Brandi says:

    Thank you for writing this. My middle son was born with a life threatening congenital heart defect 7 years ago. We were living in Germany with the military at the time. A few days after he was born, my husband, myself, our 5 year old son, and our very sick newborn were med-evaced from Germany to Philadelphia where he’s have his surgery. Our families lived more than a thousand miles away. The Ronald McDonald House became our second home for the month he was in the hospital.

    What so many people don’t realize is that it’s SO MUCH MORE than just a place to stay at a reduced (or free) cost. They had volunteers who helped entertain our 5 year old. Local community groups brought in hot meals every night. They provided rides to and from the hospital. They comforted us when we broke down.

    They are so much more than a place to stay, and such a worthy cause to donate to.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      It’s such an amazing organization. I’m happy to donate to them regularly – this is just another way I can help them.

      I’d love for you to write your story for The Band someday. Seriously.

  • Jenn says:

    I am in! we dring way too much soda… its about time it was used for some good. : )

  • Melissa says:

    I’m sorry, but this pull tab business drives me crazy. It takes over 1.000 pull tabs to equal a pound and a pound is worth about a buck right now. I love Ronald McDonald house and they have benefited my family in amazing ways, but my friends who bug me for the pull tabs drive me a little out of my tree*. I know that it is an easy way to make a small donation, but I’d rather that someone make a cash donation than see someone spend more on postage to get them to you than their donated tabs are worth.

    *I drink a lot, but not enough to equal the annual cash contribution I make to them.

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      I wasn’t trying to bug you for it – I’m trying to help out an organization I believe in.

      Sure, you can make a greater donation (and props to you for doing it), but not everyone has that kind of cash laying around. Collecting pop tabs are something that’s easy to do – if you want.

      Certainly you don’t HAVE to do it.

      Again – just trying to inspire some good.

    • Chibi Jeebs says:

      For the record, I totally see the point you’re making about the cost/weight/postage thing. However, if I can’t afford to make a donation outright (because I’m too busy drinking my money – heh), at least this is SOME way to contribute, y’know?

  • Gwen says:

    I’m in. It’s no secret that I am Dr. Pepper’s beyatch. I’ll switch to cans *and* bonus is I can now totally justify my habit!

  • Leah says:

    I had the pleasure of doing my pediatric nursing rotation at Loyola here in Chicago.. Our instructor was thoughtful enough to get us a tour of the Ronald McDonald House directly behind Loyola on our first day of clinical. It was quite the moving experience and I am glad she was able to expose us to the Ronald McDonald House. Ever since then, I have been collecting pop tops to donate. Our box is over 3/4 of the way full. When it’s full, I’ll return it to the Ronald McDonald House and start another. They offer such an amazing service for parents going through such a terrible ordeal.

  • Jessica Jo says:

    Do they have to be from soda/pop (depending on where you’re from)? Cause we go through at least a dirty thirty of PBR a week it seems in our house and I’d be happy to start saving those for you!

  • Nikki
    Twitter: laughmoar
    says:

    Thank you! My son was born with gastroschisis. My husband stayed at Ronald McDonald house for six weeks until he was released from the hospital. I met my husband and my son when he was 3 years. He had recovered from his rocky start of life but the memory is still strong with my husband. We donate money every time we are at McDonalds. We had stopped collecting pop tabs because we were told no one would accept them any longer. However, the Ronald McDonald house website said Great Clips will receive the tabs. We will drop them off at the nearest one in Kalispell, Montana since we don’t have a Ronald McDonald house close to us. Thanks again for bringing this to attention!

  • Becca says:

    The link that I am giving you has a picture of when we donated to the very Ronald McDonald house you mention. Our Girl Scout troop collected over 18 gallons…one of those big storage totes, overflowing.

  • Becca says:

    Oh, and PS – we’re still collecting. The girls earned pop-tab patches. What is cooler than that :) ? Have you seen the new Ronald McDonald House near the new children’s? I heard it is supposed to be HUGE.
    Do you need a contact at McDonald’s corporate?

  • Lisa says:

    This is awesome! We have offices in 5 states, and today we are contacting the RMD houses near each office to get the collection boxes. We are going to do a March Madness event around gathering pop tops (although I have to admit, I didn’t have any idea what one was) for our local houses! Thanks for the great idea :-)

  • La Printemp says:

    Can I make a recommendation? This takes a little more work, but it’s pretty much free (‘ceptin for gas money, which you can take out of what is made!)

    All those soda/beer cans you take the tabs off of? They’re RECYCLABLE! Do something great for the environment (if you don’t already) and recycle those bad boys! BUT! Instead of just sticking them in your local recycling pickup bins, save ‘em up and haul them to a recycling center that PAYS you! THEN! Send the money as a donation, WITH the tabs you’ve pulled off the cans, to Ronald! Waste not, want not, right?

  • Allison says:

    We have a four-can a day habit in my house, but The Husband wants to know what the Ronald McDonald House does with all these pop tabs before I start pulling them off. I’m kinda curious too.

  • Amanda says:

    I’m in law school and approximately 400 of my closest friends and peers (not actually friends obviously) pretty much live off of energy drinks. I mass emailed my friends so I can proooobably drown you in redbull pop tabs if those count!

  • Kristin
    Twitter: dragondream
    says:

    Joey’s cub scout pack has been collecting pop tops for the Ronald MacDonald house for a few years now. We collected about 45pounds this year.

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