Fort Stewart Girl Donates Time, Soda Can Tabs
April 23, 2009
<b>FORT STEWART, Ga.</b> - Soda can tabs serve only one purpose for most people. A creative nine-year-old used the small, silver links to make jewelry, until she realized just how valuable they are.
Paige Streeper, the daughter of Warrant Officer Robert Streeper, an Air Defense C41 Systems integrator with the Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, and third grader at Button Gwinnett Elementary School in Hinesville, is passionately giving her time, and even tooth fairy money, to support the Savannah Ronald McDonald House. Paige donated 91,000 pop tabs, equal to 72 pounds, to the Ronald McDonald House Charities after getting her entire school and Tae Kwon Do class involved in the collection efforts.
"It's fun to help people, and I like doing it," Paige said. The young student's goal is to raise $1,000, which would allow a visiting Family to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for up to 15 days.
The house provides Families, who live out of the area and have critically ill or injured children receiving medical treatment, with an affordable place to stay. It is run and operated using donations in the form of money, can tabs, household items, groceries and time - all of which Paige has given.
"I've been here since February, and she's one of the most dedicated kids I've ever seen," said Mindy Nash, the director of Development for the RMHC. "I think she's constantly thinking about the Ronald McDonald House."
Collecting aluminum can tabs is only a small portion of Paige's dedication. Since she began volunteering in February, she's become the youngest person in the history of the Savannah house to collect tabs and create a fundraising Web site. Her site, www.firstgiving.com/paigestreeper, has raised $305 so far.
Her initial commitment to this project came as a surprise to her father, but her sincerity has jolted a Family movement.
"I support all of her ideas and get involved when she needs me to," said Warrant Officer Streeper who wrote the letter to Button Gwinnett's principal, at Paige's request, asking for the school to get involved. He then bought pizza for the fifth-grade class who collected the most tabs.
Her mom gave her the idea to donate the tabs and took her to Savannah to get a tour of the house, Warrant Officer Streeper said. After that the decisions have been all hers, he added.
Those choices have included baking homemade cookies, preparing ham and meatball sandwiches, using her tooth fairy money to purchase household items, and talking and playing with the visiting Family Members.
Unselfishly, Paige said she gives so much so that the sick children can have their Families nearby. She said she also enjoys visiting the house to meet new people.
"I'm going to come here every month with more tabs," Paige said with a smile.
As a reward for her hard work, Paige and her Family just returned from a trip to Disney World.
"I was surprised. I thought we were going to the beach," Paige said.
Between school, playtime and Tae Kwon Do, this energetic third grader said she's not too small to work hard.
She would tell anyone her age, "never give up; just go for it," when it comes to meeting your goals.
Paige's efforts have also received media attention. She was featured in a news report on Fox 28 last month.
Nash encourages anyone who's inspired by Paige's story to go to her Web site, and find out more about the Savannah RMHC and the young girl with such a big heart.