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Wendy Reuer, Published September 26 2011

WITH VIDEO: Fergus Falls man to donate money from recycling 4 million pop tops

FARGO – Daryl Johnson could have circled an 18-hole golf course with his string of about 4 million pop tops.

Instead, after about 20 years of collecting the aluminum can tops that are roughly a square inch in size, Johnson decided he would recycle them Monday and donate the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Johnson said he started collecting the pop tops when friends and family brought him their spares. He meticulously strung each one through a nylon string, eventually filling the spare room in his Fergus Falls, Minn., home.

He measured 6,568 yards, roughly 4 miles worth, of strung tops by Monday.

“I wish I had more,” Johnson joked after unloading the tops at Gerdau Ameristeel Recycling in Fargo.

The day before, his sister Dolly Wambach, of Georgetown, Minn., and family spent about 12 hours loading the tops into a trailer lent to him by friend Shawn Olson for the transport.

“It’s pretty amazing. He’s been pretty dedicated,” Olson said.

As Johnson and Gerdau staff member Todd Harig unloaded the 5-foot-by-10-foot trailer full of tops, Harig said he has never seen anything like it.

“In a typical year, we’ll fill between two and three boxes – that is in a year,” Harig said. “We filled four boxes just today. It was quite something.”

Johnson said he decided to cash in his tops this year, after hearing about a Cowboy Christmas event in Flom, Minn., where he plans to present the check to the Ronald McDonald Houses in December.

Ronald McDonald Houses support families whose children need medical care by providing a home away from home while the children are receiving treatment.

Wambach said she is extremely proud of her brother, who just wanted to do something nice for “some nice people.”

“I am so proud of him. It’s just been fun all along,” she said.

Harig said that due to the amount of aluminum, Johnson was paid a premium per pound amount.

The pop tops weighed in at 1,813 pounds. Johnson was paid about 62 cents a pound, or roughly $1,200.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530