It began with a drink of water.
“I was having one of those cans of sparkling water we get in the cafeteria, and Deaken just asked me, ‘Can I have the can tab?’,” said Sheri Abdullah, first grade teacher at Palmer Elementary.
First grader Deaken Sherman had good reason to ask. He collects can tabs to donate to Ronald McDonald House, an organization that benefits families of children in need by helping them access medical care and other resources.
Deaken has also has help. His classmate Rocko Borne enlisted his mother to collect can tabs at work that he can bring to Deaken.
“Rocko has been bringing in literally backpacks full. He will bring in four or five gallon bags every day,” said Mrs. Abdullah.
“My mom can’t even lift up the garbage can, it’s so full,” said Deaken.
“It makes me feel happy because I like to bring them,” said Rocko. “They’re important.”
Deaken received more help in his efforts when Mrs. Abdullah asked her fellow first grade teacher, Jamie Dayton, to have her class begin collecting can tabs.
But, little did Deaken, Rocko, or Mrs. Abdullah know their request came at an especially poignant time for Mrs. Dayton and her family. The Daytons spent most of February at the Ronald McDonald House in New York City as Mrs. Dayton’s daughter received treatment at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
“It is ironic that they started collecting when we went down there,” said Mrs. Dayton. “Life is a roller coaster. You don’t know when you’re going to need a place to be one you can afford and with the accommodations for survival.”
Mrs. Dayton’s daughter is doing well after her treatment, and her family was overwhelmed with their experience at Ronald McDonald House.
“Daily, we’d have a surprise, whether it was bags to carry things in, band-aids, or a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day. Community restaurants donated food,” said Mrs. Dayton. “They would deliver her crafts and have dance parties on Zoom. Anything you think you would need, if they didn’t have it, they would go out and find it.”
Ronald McDonald house held crafts, bingo and dance parties over Zoom to keep the children’s spirits up during treatment as the community areas were closed due to COVID. Mrs. Dayton hopes people keep the Ronald McDonald House in mind if they have anything extra to donate.
“They have a wish list on Amazon, and a ‘Donate’ link on their website,” said Mrs. Dayton.
As for the first graders’ can-tab drive, Deaken’s mother will weigh the tabs and let the class know how much they weigh later this spring.
“This is something they can do to help the community as a whole. It gets them involved in helping other people,” said Mrs. Abdullah.
Even people closer to them than they imagined.