“You can help so many people one pop tab at a time,” said 5th Grader Luke Povlok about his years-long mission to raise money for Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Indiana. The charity supports patients and families of Riley Hospital for Children, and Luke’s passion for helping it is deeply connected to a sister he never had the chance to meet.
Kingsbury Elementary School in La Porte, like many others, hosts a Riley Week during which students can raise funds for the not-for-profit children’s hospital in Indianapolis. From penny wars to pop tabs, the students find innovative ways to raise money to support children getting care at Riley, and their families who need assistance with accommodations while their children are being treated.
“Luke was really excited about the pop tabs,” Luke’s mom Amy Povlok said. “I’m always invested in helping my kids do what they want to do, but I never knew how far he would take this.”
Every year, Luke has the same goal: to collect more pop tabs than the year before. By getting the word out and recruiting family, friends and supportive organizations, Luke has been able to meet his goal year after year.
“This year, through reaching out to the community,” Amy said, “he was able to collect six 13-gallon trash bags full, all by himself.”
The tabs are redeemed for cash at local recycling centers, and the proceeds are sent to Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Indiana, which supports Riley Hospital for Children patients and families.
“I really appreciate everyone who helps,” Luke said. “I do it to help families like mine.”
Before Luke was born, Amy spent a lot of time at Riley caring for her daughter Makenna, who passed away from a mitochondrial disease in 2005.
“He never got a chance to meet her,” Amy said, “but when his school announced Riley Week, Luke immediately connected it with his sister. I think he feels a connection with her through this.”
When Luke’s cousin was born, he spent six months at Riley before the family was able to bring him home. Amy brought Luke to meet his cousin and he was able to see the impact of his hard work first-hand. While he was visiting, Luke receive a plaque from Riley staff in honor of his dedication to raising so much money to help the families they serve.
“Just put it in a jar and save it,” Amy said, noting that Riley receives upwards of $50,000 each year on pop tab donations alone. “You already spent the money on the soda, why not just pop that tab and do something good with it.”
“If everybody would save, imagine how much more they would get and how many more people they could help,” Luke said.
Funds received from the recycling of tab program across the state typically add up to between $30,000 and $50,000. All the funds go to the operating expenses of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana and can cover the cost of operating 3 rooms in the House for an entire year.
Thanks to generous school children, families, businesses, clubs, and churches, more than one billion pop tabs have been donated since the program’s inception in 1995, generating more than $820,000 in pop tab revenue for the House.