The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


July 16, 2014

'The Can Man' nears 10 million tabs

Collecting tabs, 'The Can Man' nears milestone for Ronald McDonald House

One of Larry VanNess’ favorite things to do is to sit in his big comfy chair, dump pop tabs out and count.

Someone recently gave him a giant water cooler container filled with pop tabs. VanNess said there are probably 15,000 to 20,000 pop tabs in it.

“I’m going to be counting tonight,” he said Friday. “Once I start, I don’t quit.”

In a cluttered room in his apartment with a bed, TV and a small Christmas tree – to make it feel like Christmas every day – VanNess sits in his chair, pulls over a TV tray for his notebook, dumps tabs in the lid of a cardboard box and goes over them with a magnet. He then counts, documenting every 100 in a notebook. It only takes him 45 minutes to count 1,000.

VanNess, who’s often referred to as “The Can Man” around town, is getting close to counting his 10 millionth pop tab for the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). Today, he’s leaving for Indianapolis to attend RMH’s 10th Annual Pop Tab Drop on Monument Circle on Friday.

The Ronald McDonald House of Indiana provides a place to stay for families of seriously ill or injured children.

Its pop tab program allows anyone to donate pop tabs to the organization, which then recycles the aluminum pieces for money. The funds help the organization from turning away families in need. RMH asks families to pay $10, but if they can’t pay they can still stay.

In the corner of VanNess’ apartment next to boxes piled filled with pop tabs to donate, sits a plaque from RMH honoring The Can Man as a member of the Collect-A-Million Club.

Kelly Thien, communications and marketing manager for RMH of Indiana, said about 400 businesses, organizations, groups and people are members of the Collect-A-Million Club. Not many individuals get to even the one million mark, let alone 10 million.

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