MORRIS – Pop tabs are in high demand in Morris right now, as two area boys set out to make – and break – records for collecting the highly sought-after tabs for Ronald McDonald House.
Seven-year-old Luchiano Eberhard, son of Jeff and Jamie Eberhard and 6-year-old Dakota Goff, son of Kevin and Kara Goff, are on a mission to raise money to help families who stay at the home while their loved ones are at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.
“They turn pop tabs into money,” Eberhard said.
Once the children collect 1 million pop tabs their name goes on a green leaf that is placed on the wall surrounding a tree, inside the Oak Lawn Ronald McDonald house. The house is designed in the theme of a house in the woods, and it has an accessible treehouse for kids of all ages to enjoy regardless of disability.
“It’s such a really neat goal,” said Kelly Evans, senior house director at the Oak Lawn location. “They get excited to get their name on a tree.”
Evans has just ordered the leaf with Eberhard’s name on it for the tree, as he reached 1 million pop tabs, which is equivalent to 761 pounds of the little aluminum tabs.
Goff already is over 2 million and has an orange leaf representing that milestone surrounded by the green leaves of other children.
Goff was the first to hit 1 million at Oak Lawn and has the collection room named for him, “Dakota’s Pop Tab Closet.”
“I feel glad to help kids,” Goff said.
There is a bit of irony involved in the fact that neither Eberhard or Goff drink much pop and have to resort to getting tabs off of other items in their house and from people in the community.
Eberhard said he gets his tabs from V8 Fusion drinks at his house, and Goff said his come from soup and cat food cans.
The majority of the tabs come from friends who work hard to save them and give them to the kids.
“Sometimes my friend Colin brings me some in a big baggy,” Eberhard said. “And I’ve got exciting news, Ben [friend of Eberhard] gave Geno [Eberhard’s brother] some pop tabs.”
Goff’s mom, Kara, said friends where she works at St. Charles School District send them home with her, as well as friends from Texas, Minnesota and California who send them to the family.
Eberhard goes to Nettle Creek School, who saves for him and Goff goes to White Oak Elementary School, which collects for him.
Goff also has been known to ask complete strangers to start saving for him, and he collects them when he attends events around town.
“I kinda went dumpster diving looking for a can once,” Goff said. “I didn’t find one.”
Goff was born without his left hand and once asked mom if they stayed at the house, but she explained to him that he came home from the hospital with her.
Eberhard was diagnosed with leukemia last May and goes for treatment, but the family has never utilized the accommodations.
“We have not utilized the services, but it’s awesome they are there for families,” Jamie Eberhard said.
When asked why he collects them, Eberhard answered with child-like honesty.
“So I can get my name on the wall.”
But it isn’t all about himself: Once his name is on the wall he is going to continue to collect them in his friend Aubrey Brook’s name who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, so she too can have her name on the wall.
Goff plans to continue his mission as well saying, “I’m just gonna keep saving.”
Evans said the recycling program monies go to operating costs, and while it doesn’t garner a lot of money, it’s a great way to get kids involved.
“How do you say no to a cute 7-year-old,” Evans said, about the kids who bring in pop tabs.
A million tabs brings in $400 on average with prices fluctuating with the price of aluminum.
“The tabs will cover the expenses for a family to stay eight nights,” Evans said.
The house has a suggested donation of $10 a night with an expense of $50 a night, but they don’t turn away anyone regardless of ability to pay.