Debbie May

The Power of Together

In 2009, Grade 3 teacher Debbie May went to Costa Rica on a World Leadership School trip to help set up a library for a one room schoolhouse. Locals were selling pop tab bracelets to earn money for their families. Another Grade 3 teacher, Barbara Royse, had been to Haiti on a World Leadership School trip the year before to help with a school in need there.
After their separate travels, Ms. May and Mrs. Royse decided to make bracelets with the plan to sell them at the high school. That was a successful event, and the proceeds were sent back to the schools they visited in Costa Rica and Haiti. The service project shifted, and Grade 3 decided to begin collecting for Ronald McDonald House in lieu of making the bracelets. The charity provides lodging for parents whose children are experiencing an extended stay at a local hospital.  

Grade 3 has had pop tab collection as their Service Learning Project for more than 12 years. Initially, the effort began as a third-grade-only initiative. Over the years, it has grown to include all of the Red Gables Campus, and this year the High School students also collected on the Frist Campus. 
Do you know it takes about 1,200 pop tabs to equal one pound? Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville recycles tabs and receive about $0.45 per pound! All combined collections bring in an average of $6,000 each year. More than four million aluminum pop tabs were collected last year. 

Ensworth’s Haul
2022: 34,790.53 grams (76.7 pounds) (Both Campuses)
2021: 17,997.25 grams (39.68 pounds) (Red Gables Campus)
Grade 3 also purchases pop tabs from Amazon so that each 3rd grader can make their own to not take tabs from the collection, and each 3rd grader makes their own pop tab bracelet as a reminder of the value that pop tabs can bring. This is a beloved memento, and a fashion statement students are very proud that they made themselves.
Barbara Royse and Debbie May led a Service Learning camp at Ensworth beginning in 2011 for rising 4th-7th grades. Partnering with Ronald McDonald House was one of the major service projects. Campers made cards for the residents there, cooked meals, helped clean, and sorted the pop tabs collected from all over Middle Tennessee to get them ready to take to the recycling center. This camp was put on hold during Covid, but there are hopes to bring it back. 

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