Rachel's Challenge: Sparks Elementary School

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by CHRIS FLANAGAN

WFAA

Posted on January 14, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 14 at 4:17 PM

DALLAS - This year WFAA is recognizing schools all over North Texas that are taking "Rachel's Challenge" with the goal of starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. One elementary school in Frisco is making a big difference thanks to something very small.

They drop them in one at a time. When the jugs fill up, they're poured into large plastic bins. Sometimes it takes a good pounding, and they're adding up quickly with 20,000 here and 65,000 there. 

"It's pretty cool because there's so many of them," said Garrett Marshall, a fourth grader. "It's really fun when you find different colors or big ones and little ones and stuff like that."

Marshall and the rest of the students and staff at Sparks Elementary have been collecting soda can tabs for two years now. Their goal is to reach one million.

"We only have about 200,000 pop tabs," said Cheryl Salmon, Sparks Guidance Counselor. "To see how many 200,000 is and know we're not even halfway to a million, it just boggles everyone's mind. It's been a neat project for the kids."

What started in the classroom as a math project to see how much is a million has blossomed into a student-initiated Rachel's Challenge activity. The program is named in honor of Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine High School shootings. It was her dream to start a chain reaction where students get involved in helping others. 

"It makes me feel like I've accomplished something and it makes me feel great and feels like I'm spreading kindness and compassion,"  said Sarina Wentz, a fourth grader.

The tabs will be recycled for cash. The money then used to help pay for lodging at the Dallas Ronald McDonald House for families whose children are hospitalized. 

"It makes me feel really good because I know I'm helping the community and helping others," Marshall said. "It just makes me feel good."

The students hope to reach one million tabs within two years.

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