Matt Leaver of Lehighton is like most 16-year-old guys. He loves sports and music. REALLY loves sports and music. He also loves the idea of helping others. That's why he decided to help the Ronald McDonald House because of what it stands for.

He is collecting the pop tabs from aluminum cans which he will then donate to Ronald McDonald House.

The Ronald McDonald House program provides a "home-away-from-home" for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.

Matt has been collecting the tabs for the last six months, asking family and friends to help him. He also has cans scattered around at different local businesses asking people to take the time to "pop" the tabs off their cans and help in supporting the Ronald McDonald House. So far he has collected one and a half, 5-gallon paint cans.

Matt, the youngest of Tammy and Michael Leaver's two sons, started collecting the pop tabs because he had heard the Ronald McDonald House was collecting the tabs for money for children on kidney dialysis. Matt knew it was a soft spot with his mother since she had watched her dad go through it when she was young and she had kidney problems as well. Matt called the Ronald McDonald House for info but learned they didn't specifically collect for that anymore, but the tabs do go to help the families of the sick children, live at the houses, close to the hospitals.

"Our family has always had a soft spot for helping children, so this seemed like a perfect place to help," says Tammy.

Recently, Matt's reasons for collecting the tabs became reinforced when he learend his best friend, Joe Farrell, age 17, had a cancerous brain tumor removed. Joe has a long fight ahead of him. Matt and his family paid him a visit in the Children's Hospital in Delaware. Matt decided he has even more of a reason to raise money for the children and their families to stay close to each other while dealing with illnesses.

Matt is also asking for donations of gift cards, which the Ronald McDonald House staff can use to buy groceries and items needed in the running of a home.

"And craft supplies. Things like coloring books, paper, crayons, paints and scissors for the kids that stay there so they have something to do," says Matt.

When Matt isn't collecting pop tabs, he's busy with his classes in PA Cyber School, playing sports and playing in his band.

He began cyber school in third grade, after being home-schooled by his mother from kindergarten-second grade. He is a member of the National Honor Society and has a 4.0 average.

He is a member of Palmerton Area High School's Leo Club, Environmental Club and Photo Club.

Matt plans on going to college after he graduates and wants to major in filmmaking.

Sports dominates a lot of his time. He plays on Palmerton's varsity basketball and soccer teams. He played on the junior varsity baseball team. But not without a few breaks here and there.

Matt received a stress fracture in his back during a basketball game but didn't know it until baseball season.

"I thought I was having back spasms but it turns out it was a stress fracture. I had to sit out the rest of the season."

He had a broken collarbone, twice. He broke it the first time in a dirt bike accident at age 13. Four weeks later the doctor said he could play baseball and during his first game back for the Towamensing All-Stars, he swung the bat and broke it again.

He broke his growth plate in his hip playing soccer.

Just before Christmas, he broke three front teeth during a basketball game.

Matt refuses to stop playing after his injuries because "I don't want to quit on my team. And, I like what I do. If I stopped doing something every time I was injured, I wouldn't do anything."

Music is almost as important to Matt as his sports, maybe more because he really hopes his band, "Phoenix Bridge" makes it big someday. The band consists of his older brother, Patrick who plays guitar and sings and Hayden Lesko on bass.

One of Matt's goals is to travel around the world before he settles down.

Matt keeps himself busy with school, sports, music and his mission to collect as much as he can for Ronald McDonald House. He's hoping everyone will help him. If you have pop tabs, gift cards and craft supplies you would like to donate, contact Matt at (484) 294-2667 or leaver@ptd.net.