Pop tab donation to help with wheelchair purchases

This is what 20,000 tabs from aluminum cans looks like. Collected over a 10 year period by Adam Arsenault and his family, the tabs have been donated to the Red Oak Shrine Club. The club uses money from the aluminum tabs to purchase wheelchairs for children who need them.                      Jillian Trainor photo

Adam Arsenault started collecting the tabs off aluminum cans about 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that he and his family found out where to donate them.

“Somebody had told us that it’s supposed to buy kids wheelchairs, so we decided to start saving them,” said Aubrey Arsenault, Adam’s father. “We sold our cans at the bottle shop in Tignish and we asked to see if they knew who takes them, they told us the Shriners.”

The Red Oak Shrine Club is responsible for Kensington to the western part of the province. Club president Scott Cousins estimates Adam collected about 20,000 tabs.

“We figure it takes between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds of tabs to buy a wheelchair,” he said. “It depends on the price of aluminum. The price of aluminum is down right now, I think we only get 30 cents a pound right now.”

Mr Cousins said a bread bag will hold 1,000 tabs. He made this discovery after a person mistakenly thought the club got paid by the tab, so they counted them into bags by the thousand. In the end, that had a half-ton truckload full.

As of Feb. 4, the Arsenault family had a garbage can, a five gallon can, and a plastic grocery bag all filled to the brim with tabs.

He said a donation like this is fantastic.

Aubrey said once Adam started collecting tabs, it became a natural thing to come take the tabs off before putting the cans away.

For Adam, the whole thing started off more as a hobby.

“It gave me something to do,” he said.

Adam’s is involved with Special Olympics. His mother, Eva, said the family would go to different events, and people who knew about Adam’s collection would give him a bag of aluminum tabs, either full, or whatever they had.

“He would pick up the cans whenever we would go to an event or something, and brings the cans home,” she said. “Every can, the tab comes off before it goes to the barrel to get sold.”

Mr Cousins said it costs about $400 to purchase a child sized wheelchair. He’s been with the club for three years, and in that time they’ve purchased two wheelchairs.

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