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Feeding the 'Monster'

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There is a 91-ton aluminum monster growing in Wisconsin, and the students of Hayward Middle School recently won an award for feeding it so well.

The monster is the result of a project to collect pop-top tabs from aluminum cans to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where two Hayward students have received treatment for cancer, says Jim Ahrens, a 6th-grade teacher at the school and the project's sponsor.

The collected tabs are sold to aluminum recyclers, who pay 40 cents a pound, Mr. Ahrens says.

A number of other schools from across the Midwest are also contributing to the project, but since Mr. Ahrens proposed the project to his 6th-grade class 15 months ago, Hayward has collected the most tabs, he says.

"Last year's 6th-grade class collected 5.7 million tabs, and this year's class has collected over 5 million tabs so far," he said last week. "I expect our total to reach 11 million by the end of the year."

That's a lot of soda pop, but, fortunately for their health, the students have had considerable help. Tabs have arrived at the school from such states as California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Texas, and even Hawaii, from which 75 tabs recently arrived.

The McDonald's Corporation has presented the school with its "Heart of Gold" award for its efforts.

Michael Henley, the executive director of the Ronald McDonald house, says the facility began receiving tabs from various sources in 1987, and has received a total of 74.5 million tabs to date. Schools got into the act in 1989, when the Veterans of Foreign Wars School in St. Paul, Minn., raised $1,200 for the facility, he says. He expects all schools combined this year to raise $40,000.

Mr. Ahrens says he would like to see every state involved in the project, and would also like to challenge them to collect the tabs.

"It is a good educational idea going toward a great cause," he says.


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