Ronald McDonald House benefits from pop-top drive

Published 6:38 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

By By MaryClaire Foster
Pay it forward, is the slogan that comes to mind when Suzanne Barnett thinks of the more than one million pop-tops she and daughter, Molly, along with countless others, have collected since August 2007.
The pop-tops have been being collected for Ronald McDonald House Charities, an organization that provides housing in close proximity to hospitals for families with injured or seriously ill children.
On Saturday, Al Tenhundfeld, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House in Mobile, came to the Barnett’s home in Atmore to retrieve the pop-tops.
Tenhundfeld was warned about the volume of pop-tops, but said seeing them all was still surprising. He said he was grateful for all of them.
The Barnetts initial involvement with the charity began when Molly Barnett visited a family friend who was staying at a Ronald McDonald House.
From there, the family began collecting and then Molly Barnett’s Girl Scout Troop 8417 visited the House in Mobile.
“Al met with girls and they said, ‘we can do that!’” Suzanne Barnett said. “From there it was basically word of mouth.”
Suzanne Barnett is the special education coordinator for Escambia County and she encouraged her special ed teachers to become involved, not knowing one would need the services of the House within the year.
Green’s daughter, Addison, was born at 32 weeks. Green and her husband, Jarod, stayed at the House in Pensacola for 27 days while Addison was in neo-natal intensive care unit.
Green said the House was not only a great help to them being so close to the hospital, but also provided much-needed emotional support.
Molly Barnett said collecting the pop-tops was more than just an act of giving to her.
The Barnetts said the response has been overwhelming, with several area schools, churches and community members participating.
So many people helped in collecting that they were able to fill up two 55-gallon trash bags, two 95-gallon trashcans and several other containers with the pop-tops.
Suzanne Barnett told an anecdote explaining how much the habit of collecting has infiltrated their lives and the lives of those close to them.
Suzanne Barnett encouraged others to begin participating in collecting the pop-tops.
Pop-tops may be collected by anyone, in any container, but those interested in having an official box may contact Suzanne Barnett at 368-9094.

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