Good News: Family tradition of giving back passed down through the generations

Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:09 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:25 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Aluminum can tabs are one way to support the Ronald McDonald House which provides housing to families when children are hospitalized.

“Folks from all over the community collect tabs for us. We have groups of students at schools that make a competition and collect tabs. We’ve got different restaurants and organizations around town that collect tabs. When we have about 400 pounds of tabs then we can recycle and serve our families,” said Shelley Cunningham, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Amarillo.

It’s a classic example of strength in numbers as, when compiled together, these small items become a significant resource.

“Everyone can collect tabs, everyone can pull off a tab off a soda can or a cat food can or a canned fruit or soup. They are really easy to store for folks who are saving them for us. If they’re in Amarillo they can drop tabs off at the Ronald McDonald House. We have a tab mailbox outside so folks can leave tabs there. If they’re out in the rural communities around Amarillo, they can drop the tabs off at their local McDonald’s restaurant and the restaurant owners get the tabs delivered to us,” Cunningham said.

Some individuals have really shined with their endeavors to collect tabs, including Dean Herring of Hereford, who made it his mission even well into his 90s.

“When he had a project he took it all the way,” said Mary Herring, who remembers her husband’s volunteer efforts in Hereford.

Dean Herring collected literally hundreds of thousands of tabs in his later years.

“So he went to friends and businesses and gave them a little cup and then he would go collect them. He also went along the road or wherever he thought there might be some empty cans and got the tabs off so it was something he loved doing and he loved the McDonald House,” Mary Herring said.

Cunningham shared just how much he helped out.

“Mr. Herring would drive all the way to Amarillo and bring tabs just to take care of our families. That was his retirement job, that was what he was known for. If you asked anybody in Hereford ‘do you know Dean Herring’ they would be like ‘oh yes, he’s the man who collects all the tabs,’” Cunningham said.

Dean Herring recently passed away, but the tab collection torch has been picked up by his great grandson, 7-year-old Alex Hall, who is already hard at work collecting tabs.

“He knew how important it was to his grandpa. He is carrying on his great grandpa’s legacy and he is collecting tabs,” Cunningham said.

The boy has a giving heart just like his great grandpa, too.

“I like the idea of helping people and I also like the Ronald McDonald House,” Hall said.

You can join Alex’s mission and keep the tab legacy alive.

Now, that’s some good news.