The Food World IGA grocery store in Whitesburg has collected more than 100,000 tabs from aluminum soft drink cans in the past four months to benefit families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Lexington.
“A great number of the participants that stay at the Ronald McDonald House are from our part of the world. If it is helping our citizenship, then we need to do what we can to help them,” said Larry Whitaker, owner and operator of the Whitesburg and Neon IGA Food World grocery stores.
Pam Cornett, a director for a Ronald McDonald care mobile dental program in Hazard, volunteers her time to take pop tabs collected at the Whitesburg IGA Food Word to the Ronald McDonald House. Cornett said 90 percent of families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House while their loved ones receive medical care in Lexington are from eastern Kentucky.
“Last year they had more residents from Letcher County stay at that Ronald McDonald House than any other county in the state,” said Cornett.
Sarah Warner, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass, said each year Letcher County is one of the top 10 counties in Kentucky that the Ronald McDonald House serves.
“We have one family in particular from Whitesburg that has stayed at the house over 30 times in the past eight years while their son received cancer treatment in Lexington,” said Warner.
Warner said money earned from trading in the pop tabs goes directly to help families that stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
“All of the recycling money goes directly into a special family emergency fund. We use that fund to help our guest families purchase necessary supplies that they may need during their stay at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Warner.
Warner said the money is used to purchase toiletries, groceries, gasoline, phone cards, clothing, shoes and medicines.
“You wouldn’t believe how many people arrive here during a medical emergency with only the clothes on their backs. This fund makes it possible to help them,” said Warner.
Whitaker said Food World customers have been very giving with donating pop tabs.
“Our customers have been very enthused with bringing them in. They have really come through,” said Whitaker.
Whitaker said his store will continue to collect pop tabs and everyone from the community is encouraged to donate pop tabs.
Warner said hospitals must refer families to the Ronald McDonald House and only a medical official or administrator can call the Ronald McDonald House to make a referral.
“We can only accept families with a child who is 18 years of age or younger that have come to Lexington seeking medical care,” said Warner. “We do our best to accommodate everyone that needs a home away from home.”