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Cops and pop tops (copy) (copy) (copy)

Joe Alves and Lt. Keith Klafke sort through the pop tabs the Portage Police Department had received at the station in January. At left is Portage Police Chief Ken Manthey. Alves' 5-year-old daughter, Mercedes, is trying to break the world record for tabs collected in a year, but she's been so successful that it's creating challenges for the official count.


The Portage Police Department is requesting that volunteers use an online signup service if they’re available to help Mercedes Alves count pop tabs March 24.

“I have been receiving so many emails that I cannot keep up,” said Lt. Keith Klafke. “Realistically, we’ll need 1,100 volunteers to make it run smooth.”

Police and the Alves family have administered the signup sheet at: Without using the direct link, volunteers can locate the form on by searching Klafke’s email address:

In one year, the 5-year-old Woodridge Primary School kindergartner has collected enough pop tabs to beat the previous world record of 2.7 million pop tabs — her exact total still be determined — but in order to be officially recognized by Guinness, all of her tabs need to be hand-counted.

The count is scheduled for 8 a.m. March 24 at Portage High School, 301 E. Collins St.

As of Sunday evening, 78 people had signed up using the official form, but Klafke expressed confidence the count will take place as scheduled.

“I’m optimistic this new avenue will create new attention, and I think it’s gaining ground. It’s easier to sign up,” he said.

“We’ll keep plugging away. The Alves family has put a year’s worth of effort into this, and we’re just trying to help them.”

If police and the family don’t reach the required number of volunteers, police will inform those who signed up of the event’s cancellation on March 22.

Police are reminding volunteers they need to be 18 years of age to sign up and to sign up as individuals, not groups, for the event, which begins at 8 a.m. Police are also asking that volunteers bring their own drinks and snacks to the event location. With enough volunteers, the event should last only about four hours, according to the signup sheet.

Securing a Guinness official — which costs $10,000 — would be helpful, but it’s not required, Klafke emphasized.

“We can do this ourselves if we need to,” he said.

Mercedes is collecting the tabs to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Madison, which provides homes near hospitals for families with sick children. She sought to aid the house after losing her brother, Gunner Sweeney, to a car accident in 2014.

For more information, contact the Alves family at 608-477-2215 or visit “Mercedes’ Quest” on Facebook.

Follow Noah Vernau on Twitter @NoahVernau

Portage Daily Register reporter