Inspiring Elderly Woman, 92, Collects One Million Pop Tabs For Charity
How many times in your life do you think you’ve popped a soft drink tab? A thousand? A hundred thousand? A million times? This kind-hearted lady has made it her most recent mission to collect a million of these innocuous little bits of metal—all for a good cause. She’s counting them all by hand—one by one—for a cause close to her heart.
It’s not the first time that Ruth Hana, a resident of New Berlin, Wisconsin, has given to her community. For her, it’s just another way she can help the families and children in need around her. To meet her goals, Ms. Hana is going above and beyond—and she isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty, either. To learn more about this amazing woman and her mission, read on.
Raising Money, Raising Spirits
Ms. Hana decided to undertake this momentous exercise in patience and mathematics on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House charity. This organization houses families in need while their children are treated at Children’s Hospital. Her donations help to keep the house running, including paying the bills.
Hana was an orphan herself and had a difficult upbringing. Holidays and birthdays were quiet and lonely affairs for her. She made it her mission to ensure that no other child would have to experience the same. With this, she turned to charity work.
A Can-Do Attitude
It’s not the first time Hana has worked miracles for a charity using soft drink containers. Over the course of 30 years, this self-proclaimed “Can Lady” collected one-million cans and raised just over $75,000 for various charities across the country.
“I wanted to help in any way I can,” she said. The cans are a little too heavy for her to haul around these days, but she’s willing to do everything in her power to make a difference. Pop cans are easier to store, don’t make as much of a mess, and are easier to handle. Naturally, she began collecting them for charity.
A National Treasure
According to Hana, she has been counting all her life. As a mail clerk, she counted every letter that went through her hands. “eight million letters, ”she remarked with a smile. “I just love to count.” One thing you can count on is her goodwill.
“I can walk and count. Why should I stop helping people now?” she said. She has been recognized for her contributions by Regency Senior Communities, who honored her with an award on June 16, 2022, when she finally reached her goal of a million tabs.
Making Her Million
Initially, Hana set out to reach 250,000, but after she was challenged to go higher by the director of the Life Enrichment Department at Regency Senior Communities, where she currently resides, she set her sights on the hextuple digits—seven figures.
She counts the tabs alone, but she’s had some help with the legwork through donations. Even though the donations launched her collection into the high thousands, she would still head outside and sift and search through dumpsters herself.
Jumping Into Charity
“It’s funny… Sometimes I would even fall into those dumpsters,” the 92-year-old said. When she was younger, Hana would practically dive into dumpsters all around Miller Park herself to find discarded tabs. Clearly, she’s never been afraid to roll up her sleeves to help those who need it most.
It’s also difficult to imagine her storing her one-million cans as she did a decade ago. The city of Milwaukee recognized her contributions by naming June 6 as “Ruth Hana day.” Not many people can say that they have a date named after them, that’s for sure.
Recognition For Her Efforts
June 6 is just one of 12 days named after her. But Hana says she isn’t counting them. In the true spirit of charity and giving, she said, “It’s what you give back,” she said on the matter, “not what you get.” Words that may well go on to inspire many others.
It’s a wonderful philosophy. To her, all the proclamations, awards, and dates are just niceties. The real reward is knowing that she’s changing lives for the better. Running a free house for families in need is a tall task, and it’s thanks to people like her that the Ronald McDonald House is still up and running today.
Helping People One Tab At A Time
Hana has even met with some of the families she’s helped over the years. The parents of the children she helped showed a great deal of gratitude for her efforts. Hana said that she felt overwhelmed with love. “They’re kind of like my family,” she said.
It’s easy to see where she got the motivation to count all the way to a million. She does most of her counting in her kitchen, often out loud, and writes her figures on a flip-book notepad. She was thinking of the little boys and girls who wouldn’t have to be lonely while receiving their treatment.
Her Many Contributions
In addition to her can collection and tab collection work, Ruth Hana is known for her many other charity projects, including hosting eleven clothing drives. Growing up in an orphanage without knowing her family inspired her to look out for others.
While it’s a tragedy that any child should suffer through loneliness, Hana chose to take her feelings of sadness and turn them into a public good. Hers is an extraordinary tale of sacrifice, love, and commitment in the face of adversity.
If Ruth Hana’s efforts have inspired you, live in the Eastern Milwaukee area, and want to start your own tab-gathering charity collection, you too can get involved. The Ronald McDonald House Charity offers little house collection boxes for you to get started.
You can get a box of your own by making a donation. The House Charity also hosts “Tab Toss Day,” in which you can drop off tabs at a special charity drive. It’s a community effort and helps raise money to keep families together during difficult times. Check them out!