Fairmount Students Help Sick Kids and Their Families through Ronald McDonald House Charities

Posted on 05/19/2017
A group photo of students in Kristen Van Giesen's first grade class.

Service to your community and others is a lesson that transcends the classroom, and it’s a lesson the kids in Kristen Van Giesen’s first grade class are learning at Fairmount Elementary. Students in the class, as well as their families at home, were offered the opportunity to collect the aluminum tabs off the tops of cans to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The effort exceeded everyone’s expectations, and the tabs collected filled the back of an SUV. Regardless of how much they collected, the students at Fairmount were just happy to lend a helping hand to sick kids and their families.

Van Giesen knew how much her students wanted to help others; they just needed a reason. The reason came with Van Giesen’s lifelong friends, and their story. “Christie and Jeremy are my very close friends,” Van Giesen said. “Almost two summers ago they had a baby who was born with cancer, whose name was Chase. Unfortunately, after three weeks of chemotherapy, Chase passed away.”

That story will immediately pull on anyone’s heart strings. The Ronald McDonald House takes in families with similar stories, and donations like these aluminum tabs help pay for a family’s stay. “During that whole time Christie and Jeremy were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald house for free,” Van Giesen said. “Since Ronald McDonald gets most of their money from tab donations, I decided to have my class (as well as several other first graders, administrators, teachers, and custodial staff) collect tabs the entire year.”

Due to the outstanding generosity of these students, staff, and families, they collected a remarkable total, nearly 20 large buckets full of tabs. There was hardly enough room to fit all of the donations into Christie and Jeremy’s SUV. Van Giesen had told Christie and Jeremy about all the tabs the school community was collecting, but it wasn’t until they saw the collection with their own eyes did they fathom just how generous and thoughtful the Fairmount community was. “We are just completely overwhelmed and blown away by all the effort everyone has put in and all the tabs they’ve collected,” Christie said. “This is incredible, and it’s an honor to be here to meet all these students. It’s going to a great cause, and these kids are really doing amazing things!”

Christie and Jeremy came not just to collect the tabs, but also to talk with the class about why this project is so important, including a short PowerPoint presentation, and a pizza party. Christie and Jeremy will take the tabs to Ronald McDonald House and make a very large donation, on what would have been Chase’s birthday.

Students in Van Giesen’s class learned a lot, both about philanthropy and recycling. They learned the importance of giving back and helping others. And all it took was a few pop tabs.

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