In 2017, the Pool family of Cleburne unexpectedly suffered a tremendous loss.
Three days before Christmas a grandmother and two grandsons were killed in a rainy traffic accident on U.S. 67 near Glen Rose. Two other grandchildren and the grandfather were transported to area hospitals in critical condition.
While Kaleb and Shayla Pool were grieving the loss of their 7-year-old son, Parker, they were also waiting for their 11-year-old daughter, Emma, to make her recovery at Cook Children’s Medical Center.
Needing to be by her side day and night, the family was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, a facility with housing units right by the hospital for families to rest and regroup.
When Emma was clear to go home, the family wanted to find a way to give back to the RMH. With the help of Grandview 4-H, Pull Tabs for Parker was created.
“Basically, it’s just coffee cans where people can drop tabs in them,” Kaleb Pool said. “We have collection locations across the county, and there are even people who collect them throughout the U.S. and mail them to us.”
Each year on Dec. 9 — Parker’s birthday — the family delivers all of the tabs they’ve collected throughout the year to the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth.
“Our first year we donated about 150 pounds of pull tabs,” Kaleb Pool said. “The ladies there said at their location it was the biggest single donation they’ve ever got.”
The RMH has a conversion formula on its website to calculate how much the tabs bring in.
It takes about 1,128 pop tabs to equal one pound, and the organization typically receives between 40 to 50 cents per pound of pop tabs.
“Our Pop Tab program is important because it provides extra revenue that can help make up for the donations that families cannot make,” a RMH press release reads. “To house one family at Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire is between $100-$140 per night. That is a total of $1,157-$1,625 a night when our 13-bedroom house is full. We ask for a $10 per night room contribution from our families, but no family is turned away based on the inability to pay.”
Only about 9 percent of donations come from donation cases at McDonald’s.
“So, they rely on groups like us to donate to that cause,” Kaleb Pool said. “The pull tabs are just a portion of that. They will collect them from whoever will bring them in, and they will sell them and supplement them.”
Now in its second year, Kaleb Pool said his family is so thankful Grandview 4-H sponsors this mission.
“This shows how big of a family that 4-H really is,” he said. “In our time of pain and our hardship, as far as the Ronald McDonald House taking care of us while our daughter was in the hospital, we wanted to give back as much as we can. It means a whole lot to us.”
Grandview 4-H Club Manager Kristi Meehan said collecting pull tabs has been a way to keep Parker’s memory alive, while being able to give back to a charity that gives so much to others in times when they need it the most.
“Parker’s mother finds joy in remembering her sweet boy and this is one way we’ve been able to help her do just that,” she said. “Being such a small town and a tight-knit community, the story touched the hearts of people throughout our area and across the state. The Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth was a lifeline for the entire Pool and extended families during that time while the girls remained in critical condition for several days following the incident.”
Meehan said the Pool family has been lifelong 4-H members and have been heavily involved since Emma was able to join six years ago.
On Dec. 9, many 4-H members and a few of the families who grew up with Parker will prepare chili to serve to the families staying at the RMH when they go to drop off this year’s pull tabs.
Kaleb Pool said there is no deadline, ever, for donating the pull tabs.
“If someone decides to bring us tabs on Dec. 10 we will be just as happy as we would be a week before that,” he said. “We will just keep those to donate next year.”
The RMH can accept more than just tabs from soda cans. They can also come from energy drinks, soup cans or anything with a metallic tab.
If you’d like to donate pull tabs, the Times-Review has a collection can at the front office, 108 S. Anglin St.
There are also collection sites at most businesses in Grandview.
You can also visit the Pull Tabs for Parker Facebook page and message an admin to set up a pick up from your location.