Last year—about this same time—I drove Madi and a few of her preschool friends down to the Ronald McDonald House in FTL to deliver our second annual collection of pop tabs. Our stash had grown from the year before. In fact, we had gobs of them. It was such a successful and meaningful trip for the girls that Peggie (the preschool director) offered to distribute a flyer to all of the preschool parents and church parishioners at the beginning of the new school year about our fundraising efforts.
Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a mother named Pamela, who was feeling called upon by God to provide for the same cause. Through our email correspondence, it was revealed that her four year old son (who attended the same preschool as Madi) had Tetralogy of Fallot as a baby, just like Daniel. Not only was he operated on in the same hospital as our son, but also by the hands of the very same surgeon. Pamela's family had stayed in the same Ronald McDonald House as we had. The two of us had goose bumps as we read each other’s emails, and uncovered so many parallels in our lives. The Holy Spirit had indeed put us together. Pamela distributed a beautiful letter to her daughter’s school in a neighboring town to spread word of our shared pop tab initiative.
And over the course of the year, we continued to collect tabs. Jimmy picked up several large loads of pop tabs from the school, and we stored them in our garage. I mean lots of them—in Ziploc bags, in plastic jugs, water bottles and in milk crates—all donated by the parishioners and preschool families.
When it was time to plan our delivery to the Ronald McDonald House last month, my heart was tugging at me. It bothered me that only a few children (ten to fifteen max) would be able to partake in a tour of the house and the "passing of the pop tabs" when so many people had been involved in the collection process. We clearly needed a different approach. So I decided to email Ronald McDonald himself and share our story with him. We quickly received a call from his kind assistant, Lorraine, and the ball began rolling.
The plan was set to have Ronald show up on May 5th at the preschool to entertain as many kids as we could possibly gather. It was heartwarming to think that so many people would be included in the fun, especially since so many people had worked throughout the year to collect tabs in Daniel’s memory. This was certainly not one family’s project—it was widespread, and it was a beautiful collaborative effort.
Madi and I spent the last couple of weekends consolidating all of the tabs into several extra-large, extra-sturdy lawn bags. We ended up with approximately 134 pounds of tabs. That equals almost 170,000 of them—enough to provide a family with five nights at a Ronald McDonald House!
When we arrived at the school Saturday morning, we were amazed to find a large cardboard box filled with many more tabs and yet another very large plastic bag with an attached note that read:
“Dear Murphy Family,
From the hearts and hands of the students, families, faculty, and staff at A.D. Henderson and FAU High, we would like to present you with this year’s collective effort in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Thank you for inspiring good deeds in others. May our pond continue to ripple.”
The note was from Pamela, the lovely mother whom I mentioned earlier. You can only imagine how that generous act of charity brought tears to our eyes. And then, Peggie handed me a wrapped package from “one mama to another.” It was also from Pamela. I opened the present to find the coolest necklace and earrings that were made from pop tabs! It was such a special and meaningful gift, and it was quite a touching way to kick off our celebration.
As the time for Ronald’s appearance grew closer, we were joined by many families—some of them friends, some of them preschool children and parents, some of them church parishioners. It was a wonderful turnout. And Ronald was a wonderful entertainer. He told jokes and did magic tricks. All the kids—and the adults—truly enjoyed his performance. At the end, we presented Ronald with our pop tab collection, which he graciously accepted on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
It was a great day. Much more awareness was created about the pop tab program (http://rmhcsouthflorida.org), and we feel certain that our sweet angel was smiling down upon us. Our life’s work is to keep Daniel alive by sharing his spirit. Thanks little buddy.
|The truck pulls up!|
|Ronald with Madi and Sophia|
|The first volunteer from the audience:)|
|Presentation of a beautiful certificate for the school|
|Jesus with the pop tab collection:)|
|Thumbs up, Ronald!|