It started eight years ago when Sydney Fenstermaker was born prematurely and had to stay at Riley Hospital for three months. Her family turned to the nearby Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis for housing until they could bring Sydney home.
Now a student at Ryan School in Steuben County, Sydney and her family have been working to help others through the Ronald McDonald House. Along with her grandparents, Lily Jagoda and the late Frank Jagoda of Mongo, the family started collecting pop can tabs that are donated to the Ronald McDonald House, which turns them in for recycling and received the money to support its efforts.
Prairie Heights Elementary has been a huge part of that effort and was recognized this week during a special visit from Ronald McDonald for collecting three million pop tabs. The school received a special plaque and photo of the Ronald McDonald House during Monday’s assembly.
Jagoda said that the family will usually make one trip a year with a pickup truck full of more than 20 feed sacks that are packed with the little aluminum tabs.
Jagoda added that it is just one way that the family can help others who are in the same situation they found themselves in eight years ago. “It’s so families don’t have to worry about that expense,” she said. The house provides room and board for those needing to stay near the hospital long-term. “What they provide is amazing. They have a kitchen with food, a laundry room and bed and bathrooms,” she stated.
The families can eat and gather in a common area, which allows them to talk to each other for support, Jagoda added.
The three million tabs were collected since the Jagodas started working with the school in 2005, and plan to continue collecting so that the Ronald McDonald House can continue to help others.