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L.E. Berger fifth-grade class top fundraisers

Tessany Belland’s fifth-grade class at L.E. Berger Elementary School collected 300,000 pop tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Photo by Josh Francis

Tessany Belland’s fifth-grade class at L.E. Berger Elementary School was on a mission the past month.

The 21 students came up with the idea to collect pop tabs, which can be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. More than 300,000 tabs were collected from Dec. 17 through Jan. 22.

“They’ve been rock stars with all of this,” Belland said. “After they felt that’s what they could do, they just took off.”

Belland said her students split themselves into three groups: a research group, a poster-making group and a marketing group. They divided up other classrooms at the school they were responsible for, and went around to create awareness about the drive and collect the tabs.

“It was really fun to watch the kids who are leaders to step up, but the kids who are typically followers, it was a boost of confidence in seeing them become leaders,” Belland said.

She said the Making a Difference Project was almost entirely the students’ ideas and work, and that they acted independently to gather and count the tabs, and advertise their drive.

The drive wasn’t without its challenges. Counting the thousands of tabs coming in, in addition to the class’s other responsibilities, was hard to manage.

“At first, it was kind of hard because we had to know who was in charge of each class, and people would ask for help,” said fifth-grader Jacob Sell. “Sometimes we wouldn’t get the exact numbers because sometimes we would forget some (tabs), so it was kind of frustrating because we’d get so much and it wasn’t done until the next day.”

Belland said the drive taught the kids several real-world lessons, especially one that requires the public to contribute time and energy.

“It was exciting and scary at the same time,” Sell said.

The hard work paid off, though, and the students said they were excited to see the difference they could make by just collecting items people typically discard.

“It was exciting,” said fifth-grader Kyia Papenfuss. She added that ending the drive was bitter-sweet.

“I think that it was really sad because we had a lot of fun getting to do this and working with other classrooms to help them collect pop tabs,” she said.

The 300,000 tabs weigh about 240 pounds, and the market price for aluminum is 67 cents per pound, meaning the kids raised about $160 for the charity.

Josh Francis

Josh is a general assignment reporter for The Forum and the sports reporter for the West Fargo Pioneer. Josh previously interned as a reporter for the Reading Eagle in Reading, Penn. and worked as a freelance reporter for the Orange County Register in California. He welcomes story ideas via email or phone. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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