Pomfret family aims to collect million can tabs

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Pomfret - posted Tue., Jan. 7, 2014

The Roethleins, from Pomfret, are closing in on a remarkable record. They are more than halfway to a goal of collecting one million aluminum can tabs to donate to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Springfield, Mass.

They recently made a 98-pound delivery to the Springfield hospital. To date, they’ve collected and donated 519 pounds of the silver, green, blue and other colored aluminum tabs to the Shriners. According to Chris Roethlein, father of Matthew, Nathan, and Zachary who started the project, that translates to approximately 726,000 tabs. It’s a heady number for the 11-year old twins and their 9-year-old brother. 

“We like the idea of our kids getting involved in a project that will help other people,” Roethlein said. When they heard about the “can tabs for kids” program with Shriners, the Roethleins decided to give it a try. “It was an easy way for our kids to get involved.”

The project grew from there. They started talking about it with family and friends. They discovered that the Earth Club at the Pomfret Community School had started a tab collection. They set up collection boxes at the Holy Trinity Church and the town library.

The Shriners have had the can tab program since 1989. Aluminum tabs are sold for recycling and that money is used to purchase items for the hospital such as patient clothing, wheelchairs, DVD players, bingo prizes, arts and crafts materials, toys, games and patient supplies.

The Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield is a 40-bed pediatric orthopedic hospital, one of 22 Shriners hospitals that provide comprehensive medical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children with orthopedic conditions, and cleft lip and palate.

“I think it’s really important for our kids to know they can help other kids,” Roethlein said. “It’s important for our kids to know they are lucky, that they don’t have a problem where they are in the hospital like other kids, and that they should try to help out when they can.” This project turned into a fun service project for his children – one that could involve the wider community and promote recycling at the same time. “It’s an easy way to make a difference,” he said.

“We want to raise our children to be generous with their gifts,” Roethlein said. “This is something they can do. There’s minimal effort. It’s just time and it’s something they can handle.”

If you would like to donate your aluminum can tabs, you can contact Roethlein at croethle@bryant.edu or 860-928-0792.

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