DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Just like many individual Americans, organizations and nonprofits are not hitting certain financial benchmarks they were before the pandemic. The Ronald McDonald House in Dayton is one of those organizations. Reba Chenoweth, marketing and communications manager for the organization, said one of their most prominent fundraising efforts – pop tab collections – has been impacted as a result of COVID-19.

“Over the last year we’ve kind of exhausted our supplies of the tab houses that we use to give to schools and school children to collect tabs that we then recycle and use the proceeds from to help families of hospitalized children,” she said. “There have been some supply issues that chipboard is not available. Our supplier actually told us when we ran out of tab boxes back in June that they had no idea when they would have more.”

Typically, those collection houses are accessible and easily recognizable to community members, which tends to be beneficial for fundraising efforts.

“As a small nonprofit here in the Miami Valley we need whatever publicity that we can get,” Chenoweth explained. So if it’s a business or a school putting out a tab house that has our information, that definitely drives donations, not just to our tab program but just to our overall programs so that we can continue to provide a home away from home for families where they can stay overnight, and then also helping families who might be local through our family rooms at Dayton Children’s Hospital and inside Emmett’s Place at Miami Valley Hospital.”

To continue tab collections, the organization found a supplier capable of making more houses. However, the limited number was more expensive to produce. Until more of the original houses come in at the end of the year, the organization is asking community members to continue collecting tabs in other containers, in hopes of making up for decreased donations throughout the pandemic.

“Usually, our pull tab program brings in anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 average,” said Chenoweth. “Our Tab-a-pull-ooza event itself will often bring excess of $1,000. This last year, the Tab-a-pull-ooza event that we did only netted about $600. And over the last two years, our average for tab collections were around the $4,000 range.”

But Tammy Green, a kitchen manager in the Tipp City School District and a devoted tab collector, said the money collected from the cans is critical to benefitting kids facing struggles with their health.

“I think the Ronald McDonald House is a great thing for families of sick children,” said Green. It keeps them close to their children that are in the hospital. They can stay [at the Ronald McDonald House] and be assured that they’re close to their loved ones and they have all the things they need.”

And beyond the financial benefits that the pull tab program offers, Chenoweth said continuing the tradition of collecting them is a tribute to the Miami Valley’s history of innovation.

“The man who invented [pop tabs], Ermal Fraze, actually developed a business here in Dayton and the Fraze Pavilion is named in his honor,” she said. “So while other chapters have kind of abandoned the tab program because of supply issues, we’re fighting really hard to continue it.”

If you have questions about the pull tab program or would like to collect pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House, click here.