US Navy’s Supercarrier Sees Success in Can Tab Collection Program


Thanks to the efforts of motivated Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the crew collected 35 pounds of can tabs, Oct. 9, which will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Program.

George H.W. Bush Sailors empty nearly 4,000 cans each day. For most, that means 4,000 pieces of trash. However, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW) Gibbi L. Johnson, assigned to George H.W. Bush Medical Department, who enjoys saving lives on and off duty, saw a hidden treasure in the aluminum waste.

Commanding Officer Capt. Brian E. Luther made an announcement in May at the beginning of the ship’s deployment that Sailors could collect tabs and donate them to charity. Johnson decided she should take the opportunity and accomplish something meaningful during the ship’s first operational deployment, and began collecting can tabs around the ship to donate to the Ronald McDonald House program, which is part of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC).

I feel like we have a great opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life since we’re out here, and so many cans are being used anyway,” Johnson said.

The Ronald McDonald House program provides a home-away-from-home for relatives to stay near hospitalized family members, and has provided support to millions of people, including Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman (AW) Sarah M. Strong, assigned to George H.W. Bush Air Department.

When Strong was four years old, her family stayed in a Ronald McDonald House while her 12-year-old sister, Jessica, was sick in a neighboring hospital. After being poisoned by E. coli, Jessica was flown to Morgantown, W. Va., a considerable drive from the family’s home in Elkins, W. Va. The family arrived at the hospital and slept on the waiting room floor. At that time, the family was living from paycheck to paycheck, but the hospital staff told them they could stay at the Ronald McDonald House. For a small donation to the foundation, the Strong family was able to stay close to the hospital and be near their daughter. Unfortunately, the last night they were at the hospital, Jessica passed away.

Despite their circumstances, the family was thankful for the opportunity provided by RMHC. The Strong family was able to spend Jessica’s last few days with her. RMHC has helped provide millions of families with places to stay while their children are in hospitals, and continues to make a positive difference with the donations it receives.

After her sister passed, Strong and her then 8-year-old sister, Allison, collected can tops in their elementary school in support of the foundation that helped her family. More than 10 years later, when Strong received an e-mail from Johnson about collecting can tops on the ship, Strong felt that she should help ensure as many were collected as possible.

“I feel like I should give back and help a family like we were helped,” said Strong.

Strong went around the ship to pass out bags for divisions who weren’t already saving tabs so that they could begin saving. Strong and Johnson regularly collect the tabs around the ship and add them to the barrel so they can be cashed-in at a recycling facility to provide a donation to the Ronald McDonald Foundation in Hampton Roads, Va. when the ship returns home from deployment.

Johnson and Strong feel so strongly about the project that they did not hesitate to remove the tabs from cans they found in divisional metal bags, or in the large tri-walls that were on the flight deck during the ship’s steel beach picnic.

“I feel like if everybody else sees me doing it, then they’ll start saving them too,” Strong said.

Strong hopes that Sailors support the positive cause so that more families can receive help in difficult times.

“I got really excited when I saw them being collected [in the Oasis] in Dubai,” she said, referring to the ship’s last port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

There are currently 305 Ronald McDonald Houses in 52 countries and regions around the world. Ronald McDonald Houses provide more than 7,000 bedrooms to families around the world each night, saving them over $250 million in hotel costs. RMHC’s programs include Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, which are places to rest and regroup at the hospital where a sick child is staying, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, which are clinics on wheels that offer affordable health care for children in their neighborhoods.

George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Source: navy, October 12, 2011