27 January 2009
This article was written about the school where my husband is principal. I thought you would enjoy the human interest of it!
JEFFERSON CITY -- Students at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City need your help. For 12 years they have been collected soda can tabs and they need just a few more to reach their goal. Well, not just a few, one million more. On National Holocaust Remembrance Day, KRCG's Mallory McGowin has the story of over a decade of young people working to honor the men, women and children killed during that tragic time in history.
"It's a positive in that it helps us understand the inhumanity of man," says Lewis and Clark sixth grade teacher Beth Ayres. "But it also, because of the children wanting to attain this goal, the humanity."
The project started at Lewis and Clark 12 years ago. Middle school students in 1997 wanted to collect six million soda can tabs to represent the six million people who were killed in the Holocaust. And while the school is still short of its six million tab goal by about a million, students here say the symbolism is really setting in.
"I think its amazing. I never knew what five million tabs looked like before," says Lewis and Clark eighth grader Katelyn Rush. "I know I see them whenever I drink a soda, but seeing that many shows me that that many people that died...that's sad."
And for the students who were in that original middle school class in 1997, like Chris Schmitz who is now a teacher in the Jeferson City school district, inching closer to the goal is breathtaking.
"Six million when I was in middle school is unbelievable," says Schmitz. "I never imagined they'd collect that many tabs. I can't quite remember how many we collected the first year, but we thought we collected quite a bit. But 12 years later, to have close to that many tabs is unbelievable."
Mrs. Ayres says Chris and his classmates collected about 350,000 that first year. And that number has stayed fairly steady since then.
After the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis said they did not have the space to display such an enormous number of tabs, students decided to recycle the tabs once they reach the goal and give the money to the museum.
"Its really inspired me that young people have generousity of spirit and it has continued for 12 years," says Ayres.
These students are now just one million tabs short of their goal. Thats after a generous donation of over 150,000 from the Eldon Middle School this winter.
To donate tabs, you can drop them off at Lewis and Clark Middle School during normal school hours or mail them to the school. The address is 325 Lewis and Clark Drive, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101. You can also call the school with any questions. Their number is 573-659-3200.
Students and teachers have talked to recycling officials who say recycling six million tabs, which are stored in nearly23 55-gallon drums, will net about $2,000 for the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis.