Turning can tabs into wheelchairs, local youngster collects for kids
Desiring to help children with reduced mobility access the equipment they need, a local youngster and his family are eager to see their charitable collection come to fruition by donating buckets and bag loads of tabs from canned beverages to the Robert Hampson Tabs for Kids Fund.
Named after its founder, former Para Olympic swimmer Robert Hampson, the foundation dedicates itself to collecting aluminum tabs from canned beverages, recycling them in exchange for money, and using the proceeds to purchase wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment for children with physical disabilities.
Working with Easter Seals Ontario, who administers the purchasing of wheelchairs and adaptive equipment, the Tabs for Kids Fund has amassed more than 65 million pop tabs, and provided wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment – like a lift for a van, a movable seat for an accessible van, and an adapted tricycle – to 14 children with physical disabilities since being founded in 2006. Each piece of equipment cost between $1,500 and $8,200. Each pound of aluminum is worth between 65 and 93 cents, and consists of roughly 1450 tabs. For 12-year-old Sami Bellefeuille, the initiative all started from a will to help other children with reduced mobility.
Born without feet due to congenital amputation, Sami wears prosthetics to walk. And this doesn’t prevent him from loving life and being a ray of positivity for everyone around him. Deeply generous and empathetic, he’s shown a passion to help other kids with physical disabilities from a very young age. “It’s in his nature to want to help,” said his parents, Annie Charbonneau and Aymeric Bellefeuille. “He’s a great friend, he’s a good kid, he’s very sensitive to others … Being physically “handicapped” himself, he thought it’d be cool to be able to help others.”
Having heard of foundations collecting tabs and turning proceeds from their recycling into wheelchairs for kids, Sami encouraged his family to start collecting several years ago with the goal of donating them to such an organisation. Annie and Aymeric mentioned that Sami became interested in the cause at the tender age of 4. “He wanted to help,” they said. “He was very interested in contributing. It started when he was old enough for us to have conversations, and he could understand the concept.”
Getting family and friends to join in on the cause, including Sami’s 6-year-old neighbor, Briana Crête Grenier (shown in picture), they amassed an uncountable number of tabs before finally getting in touch with the Robert Hampson Tabs for Kids Fund last Fall.
Although based in Toronto, Ontario, the Tabs for Kids Fund accepts donations at various drop-off locations, including one in Chelsea, Quebec, where Sami’s haul will be deposited. Indescribably proud of their son’s initiative, Annie and Aymeric say it demonstrates his best qualities. “He cares about people. He’s very mature for his age, very intelligent. He’s just a really cool kid. A good person all ‘round.”
Amazed by Sami’s benevolence, Hampson said he felt moved to see a child with disabilities want to help other disadvantaged kids – demonstrating the true essence of the foundation. “It shows that wants to help people like him get the equipment they need,” Hampson said. “This charity is about kids helping kids. A tab is very easy to collect, it doesn’t cost much.”
Accepting anything from full Ziploc bags to half car-loads of tabs, Hampson emphasized that all donations are important contributions to the cause. “Truthfully, it all adds up,” Hampson said. “People like [Sami] and whoever working together to make a difference.”
People are encouraged to support the Tabs for Kids Fund by either collecting tabs or by donating funds directly via its website - https://poptabsforwheelchairs.ca/ - and by spreading the message about it to others… and why not suggest the humanitarian activity in schools.