News 12 First at Five / Thursday, June 6, 2013
Alexis Hooper (WRDW-TV)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Our Time To Care Award winner for June is proof once again that it's not the size of the person that matters, it's the size of their heart.
Alexis Hooper, 9, is a lot like every other fourth grader at Aiken Elementary. She loves to dance and hula hoop and hang out with friends. She likes to collect things, too.
"There's one more," she says, popping the small metal tab off the top of a Coke can.
A few years ago, Alexis started collecting pop tops from cans. That was a few years and a few thousand tops ago. Now, she's got her whole family doing it.
"They come from my grandma when she saves them for me," Alexis said. "And they come from my aunt and my uncle and my mom."
The child's grandmother, Linda Taylor, has seen enough of the metal tabs to last a lifetime.
"I'm not countin' any more. Believe me, I know how many tabs is there," she says pointing to the large Ziploc bags on the table. "When you count 12,000, you know."
Taylor figures they have collected close to 300,000 now and counting. The whole school pitched in.
Michelle Hooper, Alexis' mother, says they got even more of the pop tops from school.
"And they put her in the PTA newsletter, and from then on, it just picked up," Michelle said. "They said they needed somebody to bring the tabs over when they had enough, and I told them I'd be happy to do that."
And that brings us to Augusta's Ronald McDonald House. It's a home away from home for the families from out of town whose children are being treated at the Children's Hospital of Georgia.
"One little tab, not worth a lot," said Betts Murdison, president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House. "You put a whole bunch of them together, we send them to the recycler, we'll get a few thousand dollars a year from tabs!"
She says this is really a story about kids helping kids.
"It's really nice to see that other kids in our community are here for our kids that aren't doing as well. They're not feeling good. This will help them feel better," Murdison said.
That's reason enough for a 9-year-old girl who has already learned the joy of giving.
"Because I want to help the families of children who are in the hospital," Alexis said. "It makes me feel great."
Grandmothers are good at bragging. Don't get this one started about the difference one child can make.
"One child. One special child," Taylor said, wiping a tear from her cheek. "And just one person can make a difference. And she has -- in all our lives."
Alexis could not have done it without help from all the families over at Aiken Elementary.
And of course News 12 also wants to thank to our Time To Care partners for making all this possible: Academy Sports and Outdoors, Ashley Furniture Home Store and Subway.