Kansan picks up the tabs for charity

Chuck Hoagland shows some of the estimated 500,000 drink can pull tabs and 200,000 to 300,000 canceled stamps he's collected at his home south of Girard. The tabs and stamps eventually will be given to charitable organizations that sell or recycle them to raise money.

? After they get their can of beer or pop open, most people don’t give a second thought to that little tab they had to pull.

But Chuck Hoagland does. He’s got around half a million of them at his Girard home, along with several hundred thousand canceled stamps. All of them will go to charity.

The pull tabs, for example, benefit the Ronald McDonald House of the Four States in Joplin. The home provides housing for parents with newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, mothers who have developed illnesses during pregnancy requiring continuous rest and/or monitoring, and families of children with illnesses requiring extended hospitalization or observation or lengthy outpatient treatment.

The idea of collecting pop tabs for Ronald McDonald Houses started in 1987 in Minnesota, and the Joplin house began its collection program in 1997.

“I collect the tabs all over town, and sometimes people just give them to me,” Hoagland said. “I get quite a few tabs at church and from the American Legion.”

He said he started collecting in 2002 after he broke his back. “The doctor told me I needed to walk, and I walked up and down the roads,” he said. “I started picking things up.”

He said that many types of cat food cans, as well as canned goods for humans, now have pull tabs. “I wish more people would get involved in collecting them,” he said. “A lot of tabs are going into the trash each day that could be put to good use helping others.”

Hoagland takes other recyclables he finds to Southeast Kansas Recycling Inc. in Pittsburg.

For 25 years Hoagland collected canceled stamps for American Legion Post No. 408, St. Paul, Minn. “The man in charge of that project died, so they canceled the project,” he said.

Now he sends the stamps to the Mosaic program at Bethphage Village, a facility for those with developmental disabilities near Axtell, Neb. Stamps are sold to a collector, with the income shared equally among the clients at the facility.