AMES, Iowa – For the past five years, people across Iowa have been collecting the tabs off their pop cans in honor of former 4-H member Jacy McAlexander, who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer in 2018.
“Jacy was a 2017-18 State 4-H Council member with a big heart and was passionate about serving others through the Ronald McDonald House,” said Haley Jones, 4-H State Council advisor and 4-H program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Before his passing, Jacy had a goal to collect one ton of pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. To honor their fellow council member, the 2017-2018 State 4-H Council members organized a statewide pop tab drive in all of Iowa’s 100 county extension districts on Jacy’s behalf, calling it “Pop Tabs for Jacy.”
Council members encouraged the ISU Extension and Outreach county offices to collect the tabs and bring them to the 2018 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference in Ames. Over 1,000 pounds of pop tabs were collected, enough to fill a large cargo van. A special recognition ceremony was held during the conference banquet, where the pop tabs and other memorials were presented to Jacy’s family. He was the son of Earl and Kerri McAlexander of Rockwell City. Earl is the 4-H youth program specialist for Carroll, Greene and Crawford counties.
Each State Council group since then has chosen to continue Jacy’s legacy with a statewide service effort encouraging Iowans to save their pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. The 2021-22 State Council has a goal to collect 1,000 pounds of pop tabs or 10 pounds from each Iowa county extension district by the 2022 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, June 28-30 at Iowa State University in Ames.
Anyone wishing to donate pop tabs on Jacy’s behalf can drop them off at their ISU Extension and Outreach county office or deliver them to any of the three Ronald McDonald House locations in Iowa. The Ronald McDonald Houses will take the tabs to a recycling center where they are exchanged for money. Every year more than $10,000 is raised through this program.
“We love to know that people remember Jacy, and we also love that new people are hearing his story and learning about the things he cared about,” Earl McAlexander said. “We will forever be heartbroken from Jacy’s loss, but projects like this help heal that. We are very happy that places such as the Ronald McDonald House are still being helped in his name.”
“When we all donate pop tabs, this not only represents how much he [Jacy] meant to our organization but how we can use his name to help give back and help people in need,” explained Noah Johnson, a 2021-22 State 4-H Council member from Taylor County. “As someone who had a family member spend time in the Ronald McDonald House, I appreciate the impact that this service project can have on those kids and families in need. By continuing Jacy’s legacy of collecting pop tabs, we are just a small part of improving the lives of those who need it.”
For more information about the Pop Tabs for Jacy drive, contact Haley Jones, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shareable photo: 2021-22 State 4-H Council members