Grade 5 Evergreen Teacher Aiming to Collect 1 Million Soda Can Tabs for the Montreal Ronald McDonald House

by Julie Liebman

A few years ago, Reagan Neidan decided to launch a very unique fundraising project with her students. The goal was to raise 1 million soda can tabs for the Montreal chapter of the Ronald McDonald House. The House is a home away from home for out-of-town families of children with critical illnesses who must travel to Montreal for medical treatments and is located next to the CHU Ste-Justine.

The Ronald McDonald House hosts the aluminum tab collection drive as a fundraiser to help operate the facility. Whatever metal they collect will be sold to recyclers which will generate revenue for them to purchase snacks, meals, sheets, blankets for parents while their child is hospitalized.

Since November 2021, Reagan’s class has been collecting the small strips used to tear open everything from soda to tuna cans. Every couple of weeks, she sets aside some time with her class to count how many new tabs they received. They make piles of ten which eventually create bundles of 100 and then 1000! The bundles of 1000 are eventually hung from different areas of Evergreen Elementary in St-Lazare.

By the end of the 2021 school year, they had collected 357,000 tabs. As of today, they have 582,300 and Reagan is confident they will reach their goal next year. “I sure hope so, because we are running out of space to hang the tabs throughout the school”, she explains.

“It has been a wonderful Evergreen community initiative. Seeing those bundles hang throughout the school really gives students a tangible sense of accomplishment. Everyone gets to follow our progress and can take pride,” says Reagan. “Of course, we have the mass goal of reaching one million, but we also have the social goal of helping families who need a place to stay when their child is sick or hospitalized and of helping those in need”.

Wondering where those tabs come from? Personal friends, social media, students, families, and colleagues – so many have joined in this fun fundraising effort.  In fact, Reagan has received packages from schools as far as Gatineau and Chicoutimi. When she opens those packages, she uses that as opportunities for a short geography lesson to teach students where on the map the package comes from.

Not only is this project a unique opportunity to help others, it has also helped children wrap their head around one million as a number.
“We have been working at this for so long, students still cannot believe we haven’t reached one million yet! We look at books on counting and help them understand how much one million exactly is,” says the Grade 5 teacher.

Ms. Niedan
If you would like to donate tabs to the project, please contact Evergreen Elementary.

Asked about how exactly 1 million tabs will be delivered to the charity, Reagan says it will have to be something very special.
“At the end of the day, this project isn’t just about counting,” she says proudly. “It’s also about teaching kids about philanthropy, the importance of recycling, and what it means to go out and do some good in the world.”