Pull-tab collectors help Ronald McDonald House Charities

By on April 2, 2009

by Martha Quetsch
Carrie Petrie’s 7-year-old granddaughter Abigail survived cancer as a baby. Now she and her family are giving back to those who helped them during their ordeal, and inspiring others to do the same.

Petrie, of Elburn, said Abigail brings home “gobs of pull tabs” she collects to give to Ronald McDonald House. Abigail’s parents, Cara and Steven Bartel of DeKalb, stayed there while she was receiving cancer treatment at Loyola University Medical Center and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

“They thought it was just wonderful that they could stay there when Abigail was in treatment. They could sleep there, take a shower, all for free,’ Petrie said.

Petrie said her granddaughter has brought hundreds of one-gallon containers filled with pull tabs to Ronald McDonald House with her parents for the past four years.

“She gets donations from everywhere,” Petrie said.

Elburn Chiropractor Ken Baumruck has helped with the effort, offering his office at 319 N. Main St. as a drop-off site for pull tabs for Abigail’s Ronald McDonald House collection. Baumruck delivers the tabs to Ronald McDonald House for them.

“Dr. Baumruck has been just great,” Petrie said.

Former Kaneland Blackberry Elementary School fifth-grade teacher JoAnn Tierney, a patient of Baumruck’s, heard about the Ronald McDonald pull tab program from him. She decided that instead of last year’s efforts, in which Blackberry students collected and exchanged the tabs for money for the student council, they could donate them in the school’s and Abigail’s name to the Ronald McDonald program. So she brought the jug the students filled with tabs to Baumruck’s office.

“It was more meaningful to give to him for the local girl’s Ronald McDonald House collection,” said Tierney, now the Blackberry librarian.

Abigail and Blackberry Elementary students are among hundreds of individuals who have collected pop tabs to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Ronald McDonald House has the tabs recycled and receives the market value of the recycled metal, plus a charitable match from the recycling company, United Scrap. Last year, Ronald McDonald House raised more than $40,000 from the program.

Photo: Abigail “Abby” Bartel, 3, is a cancer survivor whose parents stayed at Ronald McDonald House during her treatment. Courtesy Photo