By Rachel Galvin
Lexi Masciarella first started collecting pop tabs in 2nd grade when students at her school were collecting them to donate proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House. In 5th grade, this North Broward Preparatory student became the head of collection of pop tabs from her class and proceeded to ask her neighbors, grandmother’s bowling team, anyone who could collect them to help her in her quest to get the most pop tabs. She ended up filling a 50 gallon drum with what she had collected.
“I wheeled the drum into the auditorium and spoke at the assembly. I was interviewed by Channel 7. It was great.”
When she asked her mom how much money that was raised from them, she was told $80. “That’s not enough,” she thought, only $80 for all of her efforts. She knew she had to find a way to make more money for the cause.
“I became enthralled with collecting them and how you could help someone so easily,” she said.
A couple of months later, she came up with the idea of the bracelets, which she sold at a 6th grade charity fair. She made $100 and was sold out within the hour. Seeing that making $100 an hour was much better than her earlier endeavor, she figured out she was onto something.
The bracelets at first were unable to be adjusted and were sharp and could cut people so she proceeded to make some modifications. She began getting demands for certain colors and types, and added charms and beads, completely transforming them into something new.
Now, five years later, this now 16-year-old has raised $10,000 so far. She has worked with organizations like Deerfield Beach’s Zonta International, which gave her a Rising Star Award, as well as Brandeis University and the JCC in Boca Raton.
She recently was at Zonta’s Festi-Fall at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. Next, she will be at Westminster Academy in Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 4-5 for their Christmas Boutique.
“During Hurricane Matthew, I was making pop tab bracelets,” said Masciarella, who started a non-profit organization for her cause called Tabz 4 Charity.
“It takes me about 30 minutes to make, including cleaning the tabs, filing them down, putting them together with charms. It is like second nature now,” she said.
She not only gives to Ronald McDonald House, which provides a “home away from home” for families of sick children so they can stay together during the illness, but also other charities who approach her. She may give 60 percent to Ronald McDonald House and 40 percent to the other charity, like to help Susan G. Komen, for example.
“The Ronald McDonald House is important to me,” she said. “In 5th grade, I went to the house [to see how the money was used] and I met a little boy named Rahiem. He was 5 years old and had Leukemia but you would never have guessed. He had the biggest smile and the most energy. He was the sweetest boy. I was probably 10. He was always there with his mom and brother. We became super close. He changed my life.”
She learned a lot more about strength from witnessing it firsthand as she watched his mom and brother. Unfortunately, after being in remission and moving back home, he ended up passing away recently, but she will carry on his story forever and remains close with his family.
“Talk about having a different point of view on the world. Through knowing him and his family, I got to know strength and compassion,” she said.
Masciarella is president of the Ronald McDonald House at her school and continues to sell bracelets for the charity. She currently has 150 made and ready to sell. Her mom says they are all over the house, but she doesn’t seem to mind.
“I think it’s great. I am inspired by her. When she came and showed me the bracelet at first, I thought this is great. The more she kept doing and creating, she was thinking outside the box. I thought, ‘How smart.’ She has come so far. If we all did our little thing [to give back], how great things would be in the world. Lexi was inspired to do for someone else. It has become bigger than she even anticipated.”
For more information, visit www.tabz4charity.com.