Angela Brothers’ and Amanda Cusack’s Grade 2 French Immersion class had lots of questions for the Shriners who came to their classroom to pick up several bags of donated tabs off pop cans. Students have been collecting the pull tabs since last October, and had several grocery bags filled to bursting with them.
Removing the tabs doesn’t reduce the value of a recycled can and by themselves the small aluminium rings are not valuable, but the Shriners are collecting and selling them to raise money to help sick kids and their families.
The Shriners sell the tabs to a scrap metal buyer in Halifax and send the money to the Shriners Hospital in Montreal or, they may use the money to help kids and their parents with travel costs on and off-Island for medical services.
“Do you like collecting tabs?” they were asked.
“Yes. We can help you if you get sick. We can help your mother and father get you where they need to go. It’s bad enough to have a sick child; they shouldn’t have to worry about money for travelling,” the students were told.
“Why do you collect tabs instead of money?” a child asked. She learned the Shriners turn the scrap aluminium into money and with lots of people pulling and pitching in their tabs, the shared work of fundraising is easy.
“How do you make them into golden coins?” another child asked and the process of selling them to a scrap metal dealer for cash money was explained. The scrap dealer melts them down into blocks of aluminium which can be recycled into other products.
The children learned the Shriners don’t use the metal to physically make a cane or a wheelchair but the money they earn selling the tabs could go towards the cost of one.
“Do you like our hats?” one Shriner asked. He received an enthusiastic “yes” from the class. The children were interested to hear how the Shriners, formed in 1921, decided to do something different as a service club and chose symbols and apparel, such as the fez headdress they all wear, from the Middle East.
They learned all Shriners are men but there are also organizations for women and girls, including the Eastern Star, Ladies of the Nile and Job’s Daughters. They also learned about the link between the Masons and Shriners.
When the children were asked if they knew what kind of special vehicles Shriners drive, they were quick to identify the miniature cars and scooters which are a familiar sight in parades and a crowd favourite with kids and adults.
The tab drive is ongoing, and anybody who wishes may collect and bring them to the Shriners at the St Andrew’s Masonic Lodge at 586 Main Street, Montague.
Kathy Ehman photo