ANDERSON — New owners of the Mounds Mall and theater surprised Larry “The Can Man” VanNess with approximately 1 million pop tabs on Wednesday.
VanNess wanted to reach 21 million in time for the Ronald McDonald House Christmas Party on Dec. 5. He was 99,170 short. Wednesday’s donation, given to him at a surprise party in the theater, will push him well beyond his goal and close to 22 million.
Of course, he’s got to count them first.
“Well, I just can’t believe this,” VanNess said with a smile on his face. “I’m going to have a lot of counting to do.”
Able to count about 35,000 per night, VanNess has no doubt he’ll have counted up 21 million in time for the party and plans to have the rest counted by early next year.
The Ronald McDonald House of Indiana provides a place for families to stay while their children are at the hospital. Money from recycling the aluminum tabs helps fund the charity.
VanNess has been collecting tabs for the Ronald McDonald House since 2003. It took three years to reach his first million. As his story spread and more and more people have been helping him, he now gathers about 3 million to 4 million per year, according to Rachel Landers who helps VanNess tell his story through social media.
“It’s all of us working together,” VanNess said talking about how his collection effort has grown into a community project.
“It makes him so happy just to meet other people and also to do things that are nice for other people, and collecting tabs has given him a purpose and that’s really turned his life around,” Landers said.