NEW BERLIN — Literally one by one, 91-year-old Ruth Hana is counting to one million, but it's all for a good cause.
Hana, from New Berlin, is collecting one million pop tabs to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
"I just wanted to give," Hana said.
Giving is what Hana does best. In 2011, she finished a thirty-year journey of collecting one million cans for charity. The City of Milwaukee honored her by proclaiming June 6, 2011 as Ruth Hana Day. That's just one of 12 days in honor of her.
Hana is well on her way to one million. She has about 330,000 pop tabs so far. She makes periodic drop-offs to the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee, which recycles the pop tabs to help offset the costs of running the house.
She lives at the ProHealth Regency Senior Communities in New Berlin. Since the community caught wind of her effort, everyone has been pitching in. That, along with her other donations of pop tabs, has helped her accelerate her collection process.
However, back in the day, you could have found Hana diving through dumpsters at Miller Park to find tabs.
"I know when I went to Miller Park, it's really funny, sometimes I would almost fall down into those dumpsters," she said.
Ruth knew the value of what she was doing for these children and families. Ruth grew up in an orphanage and never knew her family.
“Christmas would come and I would cry that I had nobody to celebrate with. My birthday came and passed, same thing.”
So on the few occasions she has met the people she helped, “The mother is just overwhelmed.”
She felt a real connection.
“They’re kind of my family," she says.
Which is why she continues to count all the way to a million, not because the city of Milwaukee has declared 12 honorary Ruth Hana Days, but because it’s the right thing to do.
“It's not what you get, it's what you give that counts.”
You can help Ruth Hana on her mission by dropping off pop tabs at the Regency New Berlin Senior Apartments at 13750 W. National Ave., in New Berlin.