HALSTEAD — After three months of collecting pop tabs, Halstead Middle School students gathered on Thursday morning to learn how much each class had gathered and donate the tabs to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Wichita.
Last year, the students collected roughly $200 worth of pop tabs.
"I thought we were doing really good the first year," said Halstead Middle School teacher Ward Willis.
This year, Willis asked the students to try and fill an inflatable kiddie pool.
"Of course, it was a big task," Willis said.
The students rose to the challenge and filled the pool to overflowing — collecting around 325 pounds of pop tabs.
"I just want to thank each and every one of you who contributed to this and was part of this event," said Halstead Middle School Principal Ron Barry. "It was a challenging effort that you guys took on."
The amount of pop tabs roughly equals a $2,300 donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Wichita.
"In October, you helped out a school district in Houston who had devastation because of a hurricane," Barry said. "You helped provide them with clothes, water and school supplies, which is a huge effort, and now you've brought it home. ...That's what this is all about. It's about giving to others and continuing to help those in need and make an impact."
Jamee Sholtz, volunteer manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Wichita, came to accept the donated pop tabs and spoke with the students.
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," Sholtz said. "I can't believe this. This is absolutely amazing."
Sholtz explained the pop tabs will be recycled and the money will be used to fund the operating costs of their two houses.
"We provide a home away from home for families who have a sick or injured child," Sholtz said. "...This will help us keep the lights on, keep the heat on, keep the air conditioning going and every thing that we need to continue to operate for our families."
Sholtz estimated the students brought more than 544,000 tabs to their school.
"After hearing the grand total of what you did and the money you raised, you just allowed a family to stay with us for one month," Sholtz said.
Willis noted though the official competition ended today, students could still continue to bring in pop tabs.
"It's not about us; it's about helping people in need," Willis said.