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Paw Paw Post Collecting Can Tabs for Child's "Earicle"

A family who is fundraising for their little boy's life-changing medical procedure has backing from the blue - lots of it. Tpr. Lena Wileczek, assigned to the Paw Paw Post, is credited with starting a can tab drive at her work site that has so far resulted in the collection of nearly 15 pounds of can tabs.

The recipient is four-year-old Austin Collins, who was born without a right ear. The reconstructive surgery he needs is considered cosmetic, so it is not covered by his parent's medical insurance. His loved ones have organized a variety of fundraising efforts, including tab and can collections, lovingly referring to the endgame as an "earicle."

"Austin's mom, Pam, is an emergency room nurse in our area," said Trooper Wileczek.  "Given the nature of our careers, a number of us from the post know her well and want to do what we can to help them meet their goal. A local business, Rob's Tire and Auto Care, has been a huge partner too. They've been dropping off their donations for us to deliver to Austin."

The tabs are worth the recycling value of the aluminum they contain per pound. Austin's surgery is expected to cost around $60,000. 

"The support from the Paw Paw Post and our community has been amazing," said Pam. "We've raised about $13,000 so far. Austin also adores anything police or fire department-related, so seeing Trooper Wileczek always makes him smile. He calls her his trooper."

To track Austin's earicle efforts, visit the family's fundraising page.