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Hartselle Enquirer

A ton of tabs

Charles Rhea of Hartselle is shown with the truckload of aluminum tabs (1,233 pounds) he hauled to Ronald McDonald Charities in Birmingham last week. | Brent Maze

Aluminum tab collector hauls truckload to Children’s Hospital

Charles Rhea of Hartselle raised eyebrows at Ronald McDonald Charities in Birmingham last week when he delivered 1,233 pounds of aluminum can tabs, the proceeds from which will be used to pay for lodging of parents whose children are patients at Children’s Hospital.

“After I rang the bell on the service door, I was greeted by a lady behind a desk,” Rhea reported. “She asked me how she could help me and I told her I had aluminum can tabs to drop off. She answered, ‘just bring them in.’ Then I asked her to stand up and take a look and told her I needed a little help.’”

“She was speechless when she saw my pickup truck was piled high with banana boxes filled with tabs,” he added, “and she summoned a crew of workers to come help me unload.”

Rhea’s delivery was a record in over seven years of collecting and hauling tabs to the charity. It consisted of 411 gallons or 1,233 pounds. The tabs are purchased by a recycler at 90 cents per pound.

The tabs were collected over an 18-month period, Rhea said. Major contributors were F.E. Burleson, Crestline and Barkley Bridge Elementary Schools in Hartselle and Woodmeade Elementary School in Decatur and East Highland Baptist Church where Rhea is a member.

Rhea and his late wife Ann began collecting aluminum tabs at home because they recognized the tab had a value and in large numbers could be used to help others less fortunate.

“We put a glass jar on the kitchen counter and every time we’d open a soft drink can, we’d remove the tab and put it in the jar,” Rhea recalled. “Then we began asking our friends and fellow church members to join us as collectors. Before long we had tabs coming in from several sources and we’d take them to Birmingham when we had enough to fill the trunk of our car.

“After Ann’s death I wanted to continue as a tab collector because it meant so much to us when we were doing it together,” Rhea said. “I’ll be available to continue collecting and taking them to Ronald McDonald Charities as long as I’m able.”

If you have aluminum tabs you’d like to donate or desire to become a collector, Rhea would like to hear from you. He can be reached at 256-773-4097 or 256-318-4097.

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