Pop, Top, Drop!

How change is achieved through the unlikeliest of places


Pop tabs. You might not think about them much, but they’re everywhere. They’re on your sodas, your canned pet foods, your non-perishable soups, and so on and so forth. For many people, they’re one-use practicality- an easy, thoughtless way to pry open an aluminum can. Nothing more, nothing less. 

But what if they were more? Remarkably, these pop tabs, (or pull tabs), a seemingly insignificant bit of metal, can go a long way when put to the right purpose.  

And in this case, that purpose happens to be raising money for those in need. 

The Occupational Course of Study, “OCS” for short, is putting together their very own “Tab Collection” fundraiser in partnership with the Ronald McDonald House Charities to organize funds for struggling families during these difficult times.  But just how does this fundraiser work? How exactly do pop tabs help out those in need? And why pop tabs at all? 

Teacher Assistant, Tracy Sizemore, an organizer of the Tab Collection fundraiser said,  “[We] will be collecting soda can tabs to support the Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House has a program supporting this mission project.” 

“It takes about an estimated 1,000 tabs to make one pound.”

The Ronald McDonald House is a charity aiming to aid children and their families in  times of need- namely providing housing and care for families with indefinitely hospitalized children, or in this particular case, raising money for them via pop tab collections. All pop tabs collected will be donated to the Charlotte branch of the charity, who will in turn use it to raise money. 

Times have gotten harder for folks in the past couple of years due to COVID and parent job losses.” Sizemore elaborated. “Medical bills are hard enough to pay when economics and finances are going well, but now, it is even harder with the present situation families are finding themselves in.” 

The money raised by these tabs will help in financially supporting these families, and even the smallest amount can make a huge difference in their lives.  

Of course, that still leaves the question of “why pop tabs?” What’s so special about them? And how can you even make money off of something so small?  

“whether it be on your favorite can of SpaghettiOs or the countless empty soda cans you’re bound to find lying around outside…”

According to Sizemore, pop tabs are made of  “high quality aluminum” and can be recycled in return for money. The tabs are taken to a local recycling center, and you get some cash for your troubles, but that’s only a gross simplification of it. A pound of aluminum is worth around .87 cents, and it takes about an estimated 1,000 tabs to make one pound. While it seems like a lot for nothing, that’s not considering how ridiculously common these doodads are. 

If you have your eye out for them, you’re bound to find a metal tab somewhere, whether it be on your favorite can of SpaghettiOs or the countless empty soda cans you’re bound to find lying around outside. And even if you don’t own any of the aforementioned items, it’s just as easy to ask a friend or family member to stash away their tabs for you. 

While also being extraordinarily plentiful, pop tabs also happen to contain more aluminum than the rest of the can. Additionally, because of their size, pop tabs are simply easier to store and transport in bulk. They’re lightweight and tiny, and they’re also a lot more sanitary than the whole can, which is a big plus. 

So now that you know why you should donate pop tabs, where should you go to donate? 

“Donation areas will be in the foyer of the school and in Mr. Inga’s classroom [in] F1B,” said Sizemore.  “Collection has already started [as of February] and will continue through the end of the semester.”  

It is also possible to donate directly to the Ronald McDonald House yourself by visiting in person, or dropping off donations at a local McDonalds, as long as the establishment is available for donating.  When dropping off your tabs, have them in a container of sorts, like jugs, jars, baggies, and/or boxes. The more the better! 

“it is something we can ALL do in order to give back to the community”

OCS aims to collect at least a couple hundred pounds, and likewise, Sizemore hopes to see this project take off at Piedmont and ideally become a yearly, ongoing event that students are encouraged to donate to anytime. 

“To whom much is given, much will be required. We are held accountable for what we have. And we are responsible for reaching out to those who are less fortunate,” Sizemore commented. “[Donating] is easy to do, encourages charitable giving, promotes recycling, and anyone can do it.” 

Sizemore stressed that “Collecting simple soda can tabs doesn’t seem like much and folks probably say “what does it matter”. But collecting tabs can be important, it is something we can ALL do in order to give back to the community. Giving back without expecting anything in return, and receiving the deep down feeling, in your soul, knowing that you made a difference.”


So what’s stopping you, panthers? Go out and “POP A TOP!” Bring them to school! Get the word out! Every little bit counts, and you can make a change.