Georgia 4-H members have collected aluminum pop tabs to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia for the past 15 years. The students need to collect 16,500 pounds of the tiny tabs by Nov. 5 to reach their goal, a total 15-year donation of $100,000.“We need $6,442.18 to have donated $100,000 in the 15 years we have been collecting pop tabs,” said Lori Bledsoe, Georgia 4-H Northwest District program coordinator. “We can make our $100,000 goal if we work together to recycle the pop tabs instead of throwing them away with the cans.”In 2002, Georgia middle school 4-H students had the idea to collect pop tabs, recycle them and donate the proceeds to Ronald McDonald Houses.One pound of aluminum is equal to about 1,500 pop tabs.“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, making new aluminum cans from recycled ones saves 92 percent of the energy required when making cans from bauxite ore,” Bledsoe said. “Recycling also cuts down on waste.”Georgia 4-H rotates the donations each year across the locations of Ronald McDonald Houses in Georgia. This year’s pop tabs will support the Augusta house.“Our 4-H members are dedicated to this cause. In Crawford County, Georgia, the kids even went to their county recycling facility and popped the tabs off all their cans,” Bledsoe said.Georgia 4-H members in sixth through eighth grades will bring their pop tabs to 4-H Junior Conference, a weekend retreat set to take place in Rock Eagle 4-H Center on Nov. 5-6. The pop tab community service project is one of many that culminate each year at the conference.This year, 4-H members are also collecting personal care items to create “blessing bags” for families who stay in Ronald McDonald Houses.“Families may forget things like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes if they come to a Ronald McDonald House in a hurry,” Bledsoe said.Diapers of all sizes are also being collected at the conference to support a nonprofit agency that provides diapers to needy parents, a project organized by Evans County 4-H member Hannah Summers.“These service projects, which were designed by 4-H members, provide the students with the opportunity to exhibit generosity and benevolence,” Bledsoe said.To donate pop tabs, personal care items or diapers for these projects, contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office.Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill, critically injured or medically fragile children who are receiving treatment at area medical facilities. The house offers a nurturing and supportive environment, including a place to eat, sleep, launder clothes and relax. Since opening in November 2002, the house has served over 5,000 families from 125 Georgia counties, 28 states and 8 countries. For more information, visit rmhccga.org.The mission of Georgia 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. This mission is accomplished through hands-on learning experiences focused on agricultural and environmental issues, agriculture awareness, leadership, communication skills, foods and nutrition, health, energy conservation and citizenship. For more information, visit georgia4h.org.