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Lewis County VFW donates $1,000 from tab collections to dialysis center

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LOWVILLE — Over the past eight years, members of the Lewis County Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary have collected a ton of tabs from soda and beer cans.

Now, all that work will benefit the new dialysis center here, with a $1,000 donation to the Lewis County Hospital Foundation.

“No matter how little they are or how big they are, they all add up to money,” campaign Chairwoman Joan Davis said.

“We’re so grateful for the tremendous support the VFW has given to us for the dialysis center,” said JoAnne Rhubart, executive director of the hospital foundation.

The VFW auxiliary collected 2,000 pounds worth of the metal tabs over the years and sold them to an aluminum recycling center to raise money for the dialysis center, which opened March 19 at Lewis County General Hospital and is being operated by DaVita Inc.

The $1,000 donation is expected to be used to purchase iPads that patients can use during several-hour dialysis sessions at the center, which has a Wi-Fi connection.

Mrs. Davis said the tab collection was a community effort, with assistance from Lowville Academy and Central School, other local organizations and individuals and auxiliary chapters in surrounding counties.

Since it takes about 1,500 tabs to make a pound, organizers calculate that about 3 million tabs were gathered during the eight-year project.

Last year, the county-owned hospital built a 7,200-square-foot addition off the west side of the Medical Arts Building’s first floor and basement to accommodate the eight-station dialysis center.

The $1.9 million project was funded primarily by a $904,837 state Department of Health commissioner’s discretionary grant and a $300,000 Empire State Development grant, along with money collected by the hospital foundation — both through the efforts of prime supporter Edward Ingersoll and other fundraisers such as an annual bowling tournament — and annual lease payments from DaVita.

The new center provides a local option for Lewis County residents who in the past have been forced to travel to Watertown or Utica to receive dialysis treatments.

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