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Community makes huge pop tab donation in memory of 'The Can Man'

People in Anderson and across Madison County collected more than 800,000 pop tabs just in the month since Larry "The Can Man" VanNess died.

ANDERSON, Ind. — A big donation was made in memory of an Anderson man who dedicated his life to helping the Ronald McDonald House. 

People in Anderson and across Madison County collected more than 800,000 pop tabs in the month since Larry "The Can Man" VanNess died after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street on Oct. 2. They combined those tabs with the 300,000 that had been collected before his death to donate over a million tabs to the Ronald McDonald House.

That brings VanNess' total donations to more than 27 million pop tabs to help the charity.

VanNess was homeless at the age of 16 and struggled with substance abuse during his life. He started collecting pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House in 2003.

His caregiver and friend, Rachel Landers, told 13News that collecting pop tabs is how VanNess turned his life around.

"When he started focusing on collecting pop can tabs for Ronald McDonald House, his whole demeanor changed. And he became known as a person who was just very kind and generous and wanted to do things to help other people," Landers said.

Bittersweet, to say the least. With the help of my son, Luke, I delivered 800,000 can tabs to Ronald McDonald House...

Posted by Rachel Lee Landers on Monday, December 5, 2022

Before Monday's donation, the pop tabs VanNess collected over the years brought about $12,000 to $13,000 to the Ronald McDonald House.

Landers said she and the city of Anderson want to keep collecting pop tabs in honor of VanNess for as long as they can. They have their sights set on reaching 28 million tabs, with about 750,000 tabs to go until they reach that mark.

An endowment fund has been created in VanNess' name to provide assistance to residents of Madison County who are in need. There is currently a little over $5,000 in the fund through the Madison County Community Foundation, which accepts donations online.

The community also wants to put up a statue of VanNess in Anderson and is looking for funding for that project, as well.

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