Bit by bit and year by year, she has been collecting pop tabs off of cans that has earned a local nonprofit organization hundreds of dollars.

Every day, Lisa Duke collects pop tabs from friends, neighbors, fellow church members at Morgantown Baptist Church and from her own cans of Sprite she drinks.

They are given to the Ronald McDonald house, who melt them down for cash at the rate of about 40 to 50 cents a pound. Statewide efforts of pop tab collection typically earns between $30,000 to $50,000 annually to help with operating expenses at the house, according to the Ronald McDonald House.

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The Ronald McDonald House allows families of children being treated at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health to stay at the house while their child receives medical care.

Duke, 56, has Down Syndrome. The Trafalgar woman loves to color, calls her dog named Boots “baby,” volunteers to shred paper for a local business and helps out in much larger ways.

Her sister, Connie Wiley, and father Arnold Duke, helped her drop 50 gallons of pop tabs at Indian Creek Elementary School at the end of the school year.

They wheeled them in using a wagon and told the students that if Duke could help people in her own way, they could too.

“You look at someone as simple as this, making a difference,” Wiley said.

To date, she has collected hundreds of gallons of pops tabs to give to the Ronald McDonald House.

Her efforts started in 2008, when she saw that Nineveh Senior Center had been collecting pop tabs for the same reason.

She then decided that collecting them looked like fun, Wiley said.

She has since donated pop tabs to the Ronald McDonald House three times, including as a celebration of her 50th birthday, when her family rented her a limousine, allowing her to take the pop tabs to Indianapolis in style.

A few years later her efforts became more personal.

Her niece was a year old when she was rushed to Riley Hospital with a collapsed lung.

Doctors were sure that she wasn’t going to make it, Wiley said.

Wiley’s daughter stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while waiting for her daughter to recover. Staying at the house was an amazing, stress relieving opportunity for her daughter, Wiley said.

“If it had not been for Riley, I don’t know that she would be here,” Wiley said.

The experience got Duke more passionate about her work.

Now people know to automatically give their pop tabs to Duke, Wiley and Arnold Duke said.

They attend Morgantown Baptist Church, and as Lisa makes her round of hugs to other parishioners, they stuff zip lock baggies of pop tabs in her hand, Arnold Duke said.

“It puts a big grin on her face when they bring them to her,” Arnold Duke said.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.