When Emily Fishman, of Alamo, was in fifth grade, she began looking for a Girl Scout project, and this was also about the time her family visited relatives in Chicago for a bat mitzvah. She soon discovered that her cousins raised money for the Ronald McDonald House, which offers families of hospitalized children a place to rest near the hospital, and thus, Emily found her project, too.

Emily has continued through the years in raising awareness of Ronald McDonald House charities, by collecting pop tabs, which are something so many of us discard. However, Emily discovered how these little items could be of use, which first happened on that trip with her family to Chicago and a visit to the Holocaust museum. It was there at the museum gift shop that Emily was intrigued by the beautiful and creative pieces, which were made from many of these recycled pop tabs including belts, purses and bracelets.

"I asked around and found out that many artists buy these pop tabs for their art. I talked to my cousins, and they collected them for Ronald McDonald House charities, and so I started collecting them, too," said Emily, who began collecting the pop tabs, asking friends and family to save them for her. "I figured out how to make the pop tabs into bracelets after researching it on the web and starting selling them to my neighbors, friends and family," added Emily, who made them for about eight months and collected more than $150, which was all donated.

It was around the time Emily was rallying her family friends to collect the pop tabs, when she soon discovered that her friend became sick.

"Unexpectedly, I heard that a really close friend of mine had come down with a very rare disease, and during her time at the hospital, her mother lived at the Ronald McDonald House so she could be close to her," Emily told me. "The Ronald McDonald House helped my friend's family tremendously, and I now had another reason to support this charity," she said.

So, when Emily was 13 and about to experience her own bat mitzvah, she asked family and friends to continue collecting the pop tabs, and enthusiastic relatives happily agreed to help her for such a wonderful cause.

"This was so much fun and so rewarding. I thought it was something I could really get the community to do. Not only is it a great cause, but this is recycling something that we consume a lot," said Emily, who has made fliers and "collection cups" she's been distributing and has set her sights ahead for expanding her philanthropy.

"Next year I'll be a freshman at Monte Vista, and I hope to start a club to help get more people involved," said the dedicated teen.

You can learn more about the Ronald McDonald House charities and "Emily's Philanthropy" and ask for a copy of her flyer and tips on collecting the tabs by contacting the Fishman family at fourfishies@sbcglobal.net. Long after her friend became well again and her bat mitzvah a treasured memory, Emily has continued to find a way to give back in more ways than one by helping families of sick children and our environment at the same time.

Thank you, Emily, and keep up the great work!

Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- alamo@hotmail.com.

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