Pop tab collection for quarter of a century

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Few people truly have a reputation that precedes them and is as glowing as that of Archie Kontuk.

For about 25 years, Kontuk has been diligently collecting pop tabs by the pound to raise money for those who need wheelchairs or help of just about any kind.

He began collecting the tabs after he saw a newspaper photo of a man who was collecting pop tabs to get a wheelchair for someone. After seeing this, Kontuk thought that he could do the same thing and help others. Having been in a wheelchair when he was younger was part of Kontuk’s motivation.

With the help of family members and Summer Street where he works, Kontuk has collected millions of pop tabs over the years and helped many people with everything from acquiring wheelchairs to helping those affected by house fires, or wanting to attend summer camp and other trips.

“Archie has two really good (reasons) to collect pop tabs: he likes to help people and he likes to collect things,” said Walter Smith, one of Kontuk’s guardians. With a pound of pop tabs bringing in about 50 cents and a transfer wheelchair going for around $300, that’s about 600 pounds of pop tabs that Kontuk has to collect. That’s no easy feat for one man on his own, however, Kontuk has masses of helpers who were hooked on helping him out after hearing his story or seeing his shining smile.

Smith will often come into work to find a bag or bin of pop tabs waiting for him from someone collecting for Kontuk. Dorothy Doyle, who works with Archie at Summer Street, shared that provinces out west as well as helpers in Cape Breton, Antigonish and a number of schools all collect tabs and recyclables for Kontuk.

He always welcomes more help collecting tabs as well and offers anyone who has tabs to contact him by phone at 902-755-5586 or they can take the tabs to Summer Street for him.

As for how he feels about getting to help so many people, Kontuk smiles widely and says “good!” He truly enjoys getting to help others and it is evident in what he does.

“When we do the presentations, when we leave he stands there and shakes everyone’s hand,” praised Doyle.

Last week, Kontuk celebrated a donation of $100 from one of his helpers, Barry Hamilton. Along with collecting at his camp ground, Hamilton has also set up an account at The Golden Penny on Bridge Avenue in Blue Acres, allowing anyone who wants to donate tabs or recyclables to Kontuk to take them to the business and tell staff that they would like to contribute to the account for Kontuk.

“The enthusiasm has never waned,” said Smith about Kontuk’s drive to help others. “There’s always a big smile on his face.”

Archie Kontuk, front, holds a cheque for $100 from Barry Hamilton, pictured back left, to help Kontuk raise money for wheelchairs and people in need. Beside Hamilton is Summer Street’s Dorthy Doyle who works with Kontuk, and Walter Smith, a member of Kontuk’s family.