The tabs on pop and beer cans are small chunks of metal that people often toss in the trash but these tabs have given 16 children specialized wheelchairs to live fuller lives. Holy Cross School in Winnipeg started collecting tabs in spring 1998 and by 2000 they had enough to buy a tilt-in-space wheelchair so that five-year-old Carley, who has cerebral palsy, could go to kindergarten. This story touched hearts near and far and today, participants collect millions of tabs annually. One of those involved is Edmonton sales rep Dave Harback.

“A mortgage broker in my office initially told me about this good cause. I’ve been collecting tabs for the past five years and my 11-year-old granddaughter, Olive, likes to help out too. Now I’m planning to ramp up my involvement by giving clients and friends special collection jars with information as well as working with Welcome Wagon to distribute them. I hope that by the end of the year, there will be 200 families in the Edmonton area saving tabs. When the jars are full, I will gladly pick them up.”

Holy Cross School decided to collect tabs rather than the whole can to reduce storage space and because there are refund programs in place to accept cans. By collecting just the tab, people can return the can but still help out on the project. The catch is that recycling aluminum pays only about 60 cents per pound.

According to statistics from the school, there are approximately 1,500 tabs in a pound. To purchase a $ 6,000 wheelchair, the school requires approximately 14 million tabs, which is nearly 9,500 pounds. To purchase a $ 10,000 wheelchair requires approximately 24 million tabs or 16,000 pounds.

Amazingly, the school has been able to buy 16 wheelchairs in the past 17 years.