Student Creates Pop Tab Collection Chest in Teacher’s Memory

Thomas Maiellaro, a Sutton Middle School student, faced tragedy with hope when his favorite English teacher, Cathryn Kearns, died after suffering a stroke. “She was a beloved teacher and volleyball coach who also set a philanthropic example to her students,” says Bev Maiellaro, Thomas’ mother.

Cathryn Kearns

Cathryn Kearns was familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities because she stayed at a House when her sister battled an illness when she was younger.

Kearns was familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities because she stayed at a House when her sister battled an illness when she was younger. She loved the mission and vision of RMHC and wanted to share that love with her students.

“To get her students involved in volunteering,” Bev says, “Mrs. Kearns would hold a contest for her classes to see who could collect the most Pop Tabs. Whoever won received either a pizza or doughnut party.”

“I was so excited about the contest and would go to my family, friends and neighbors to help get my class to win,” Thomas says. “She was so passionate about giving back and made sure she passed that spark on to us.”

After the passing of his teacher, Thomas wanted to continue the legacy of collecting Pop Tabs at his school. He decided to design a permanent collection chest for the school’s lobby where students could drop off Pop Tabs. The chest was made by a carpenter and hand-stained by Thomas. He placed plaques on the top of the bin to dedicate it to the memory of Kearns.

“We are proud to have such a remarkable Charity in Atlanta and proud of Thomas for wanting to support the families who need it,” Bev says.