Hettie Halstead Elementary School Assistant Principal Deanna Thompson, center, and teacher Becky Miller, right, turn in thousands of aluminum can pull tabs to support a Copperas Cove family at the Ronald McDonald House on Wednesday.

Hettie Halstead Elementary School students collected thousands of pull tabs for the Temple Ronald McDonald House, where a Copperas Cove family is staying while their father receives cancer treatments. The father serves in the Army at Fort Hood.

“The oldest child was in my class,” said Becky Miller, a teacher at the school. “They are a faith-filled family and put their trust in God. They are making it. But, it is very difficult for them. We have had bags of tabs turned in and filled gallon jugs. We recycle the cans, and the kids pull the tabs.”

The Ronald McDonald House, which is located near Scott & White Hospital in Temple, receives about $5,000 a year from tabs collected, said Susan Bolton, Temple’s McDonald House executive director.

Bolton spoke at the morning Exchange Club meeting, where Miller and Deanna Thompson, the school’s assistant principal, presented the tabs.

“The (Ronald McDonald) house is not supposed to take any families of adult patients,” Bolton said. “But, I am not going to say no to someone fighting to serve our country. The soldier has a wife and three children. We get a lot of referrals (of families) from Copperas Cove.”

Halstead Elementary School collected the tabs for three years and has not officially counted its total. The pull tab fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House started 10 years ago and raised more than $50,000 for the Temple location.

“Our student council helps a lot with getting all of the tabs turned in,” Thompson said. “They publicize it and remind students to bring in their cans. It is a joint effort.”

The school has about 400 students.

The white donation bins where residents can donate used clothing around Copperas Cove net the Ronald McDonald House about $2,000 per month. It also receives 1 cent from every Happy Meal purchased.

The owner of the Copperas Cove McDonald’s restaurants, Hal Leverson, is generous with financial contributions, Bolton said. “It all adds up.”

Herald/Wendy Sledd

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