Pulling Together

By: Victoria Battcock

Some are pulled towards the calling of helping others. Here’s one such story  


Katherine Kavanagh is from Cape Broyle and has been collecting pull tabs for about five years. Her biggest year yet was just tallied up at a total of around 119,000 tabs.

It all started with a little bucket full of tabs in her basement, but it has evolved into a jar that is transferred weekly into a big tub.

The collecting started with Kavanagh’s Girl Guide units in Fermeuse-Renews as a service project, but she continues to collect them on her own. 

Kavanagh, who is 15 years old, learned from a young age that recycling was important. Her family does everything they can to protect the environment. When a note was sent home that pull tabs from pop cans were being collected, she thought it was just another way to be environmentally friendly.

When the first year of collecting was over and the service project wrapped up, the older girl brought her pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s and they were thankful for her donation.

The guiders and girls in Fermeuse-Renews units realized that this was something that was appreciated and did in fact make a difference to the people who stay there.

Kavanagh was always one of the biggest contributors to this project.

Keep The Tabs

She has become known for this little hobby by her family and friends. When her family goes out to eat, her dad clears all the cans of their tab and fills his pocket.

The clean source of aluminum takes up less space and is easy to store which is why the charity promotes their collection.

“People will literally come up to me during school and be like ‘here you go Katherine’ and it will be only one pop tab,” Kavanagh says.

Kavanagh’s mom, Terri-Lynn is her biggest supporter, and she doesn’t understand why more people do not collect tabs.

“The thing is, pop tabs are so small and easy to collect,” she says. “There is no big mess like some recycling and they are easy to fit in your pocket.”

Anytime someone comes to visit Kavanagh’s home, it usually involves a baggy of tabs and then Kavanagh having to show the guests the progress she has made in the large tub.

“My tip for anyone starting to collect these would be to spread the word,” Kavanagh expresses. “My mom posted it on Facebook and now I have random people handing me handfuls of tabs!”

Tip of the Iceberg

The Ronald MacDonald House Charities has many recycling locations set up to help them with fundraising. When delivered, pull tabs are pulled and weighed and redeemed for cash.

“Taking care of the earth by recycling is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Christine Morgan, Director of Development and Communications.

Since opening in 2012, the impact the Ronald McDonald House Charities has had on families is everlasting. The charity has provided more than 27,421 nights of accommodations to 1,205 families.

“When a child is sick, the world stops in an instant for the entire family and nothing matters more than healing their child,” Morgan explains.  

During this difficult time, parents not only struggle to support their sick or injured child but they must maintain their jobs, pay bills and manage responsibilities of everyday life and that is where Ronald McDonald House Charities can help.

Kavanagh’s goal when starting was to give somebody a free stay. Her contributions each year have went toward a family staying at the St. John’s location for a number of days.

In 2017, pull tabs covered the cost of a family to have a place to stay for three weeks.

“I just really wanted to help give families something in their time of need,” Katherine says.

 She makes a delivery around the end of the school year each year. This year was her biggest year yet. The people at the Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s told her that it was one of the largest donations of tabs they had seen at one time from one person.  

Kavanagh’s mom stresses how easy and important this simple task is. She is proud of her daughter and the work she puts into the project every single year.

Home Away From Home

“If everyone did this simple thing, imagine all of the families we could accommodate,” Terri-Lynn says.

By donating pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, it is helping to provide a “home away from home” for sick and injured children and their families during what could be the most difficult times in their lives.

The dollars raised from recycling pull tabs go directly to providing the programs and services for families in the province.

“Whether they have a two-pound newborn in the NICU, a child in need of surgery, an injured teenager under pediatric care or a child undergoing treatment for cancer, RMH is there for them.”

For more information or to make a donation, please call toll free 1-855-955-HOME or visit our website www.RMHCNL.ca.

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