Kids from Duneland, Portage, Valparaiso and Crown Point schools have been scouring their houses, hunting though their cafeterias, and rallying up their families to collect one seemingly insignificant thing: tiny aluminum pop tabs. Saturday morning elementary students watched in awe as jugs, boxes and bags piled into a collective mountain- ultimately contributing to a cause to help kids and families going through hard times.
Hannah’s Hope, a Valparaiso-based nonprofit, collected a total of 2 million pop tabs from dedicated students at 16 schools across Northwest Indiana to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Indianapolis.
“Every year I am astonished by how many pop tabs are collected,” Mike Martinez, co-founder of Hannah’s Hope, said. “Every year, we feel like this is the last year, because there couldn’t possibly be more pop tabs left, it’s just phenomenal.”
On Saturday, Hannah’s Hope founders Mike and Mary Martinez treated the students to an afternoon of fun and ice cream at the Valparaiso McDonalds on US-6, and recognized this year’s top collectors.
“It started with a milk jug,” Mary Martinez, cofounder of Hannah’s Hope, said. “And then it grew, and eventually turned into this huge collection with all of these schools involved. My favorite part of this is that we can get kids involved, it’s something they can do to help others that’s simple.”
Liberty Elementary School collected 672,000 pop tabs and Ayelsworth Elementary School collected an estimated 322,000, both earning the title of this years Champions.
Christy Jarka, principal of Liberty Elementary School, said this is the largest amount they’ve collected in their four years of participation.
“It’s a win-win cause,” Jarka said. “It’s a friendly competition between schools, but we are all collecting for a good cause, and Hannah’s Hope and the Ronald McDonald House Charities are two, very wonderful organizations.”
When Jarka asked if first grader Hadynn Martinez, Mike and Mary Martinez’s daughter, was excited about all of the tabs collected, she did a happy dance. The Liberty Elementary student was one of the pop tab leaders who was in the cafeteria every day making sure no pop tab went uncollected.
Jeff King, principal of Aylesworth Elementary School, said they’ve been participating for seven years, and collected 670 pop tabs per student. He said in total, Portage Township Schools collected 1.2 million pop tabs.
“We make a big deal out of it every year,” King said. “One of the things as a tribe of Portage Township Schools that we try to do, is we want kids to have an understanding about the world around them, and we want them to recognize the gifts and talents that are in themselves to contribute to a cause they care about. And we want to show them that they can contribute at any age, and at any time.”
Mike and Mary Martinez have been doing the pop tab collection for seven years for the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis, because it was a huge resource of help when their daughter, Hannah, was in a hospital in Indianapolis years back. Ronald McDonald House Charities provide a home-away-from-home for families of children who are at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and other area hospitals for medical care.
As they close out another successful collection, the Martinez family is excited for many more successful years to come.
“Every year, I think, ‘How can they possibly collect two million pop tabs?’ But they do it every year, some how the kids manage to find them,” Mary Martinez said. “As we continue, we’ll get the word out more and get more schools involved.”
Hannah’s Hope thanks all of the 2017-2018 participants:
Duneland School Corporation:
Chesterton Middle School
Portage Township Schools:
Ayelsworth Elementary -Champions
Willowcreek Middle School
South Haven Elementary
Paul Saylor Elementary
Valparaiso Community Schools:
Crown Point School Corporation:
Jerry Ross Elementary
PO Box 2242 Portage, IN 46383
Visit Hannah’s Hope Partner Profile