‘Caps For Chemo’ Called A Hoax

By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some children and hospital employees thought they were doing something to help cancer patients by collecting plastic bottle caps, but experts say it’s all a hoax.

Some employees at UPMC Shadyside and students in two local school districts collected thousands of caps for a program called “Caps for Chemo.”

“Our kids love to do anything to help other people,” said Jennifer Meliton, principal at Greenock Elementary in Elizabeth Township. She says it all started with a parent who works at UPMC Shadyside.

“She told me Shadyside was doing a collection for cancer patients where for every 1,000 caps that were donated, a cancer patient would receive a free chemo treatment,” said Meliton.

Meliton checked things out and discovered what UPMC confirms: that some employees at the hospital were indeed collecting caps for this supposed program, so kids at two schools in the district started, too.

In a neighboring district, the principal at Pleasant Hills Middle School says his students collected for the program last year and were about to begin collecting again this year.

That’s when everyone got the news that “Caps for Chemo” is a hoax, according to experts including Snopes.com and the American Cancer Society, which has a warning about the hoax on its website.

“We were disappointed,” said Meliton, who immediately sent out letters to parents.

As for the thousands of caps already collected her schools, UPMC has gotten involved to help. “While there is unfortunately no monetary value to the collected bottle caps, UPMC Shadyside is exploring opportunities for recycling the caps,” said UPMC Spokesperson Amy Dugas.

She says, however, that UPMC is not in a position to help any other people who may have collected caps.

Meliton is glad it can still be a positive experience for the kids. She said, “For the kids efforts, the winning class will still receive a pizza party, and you know, there may someone who sees a story like this and steps forward and makes a donation.”

The American Cancer Society says it’s unclear what the origin of the hoax is, but says the hoax has also surfaced in both Virginia and West Virginia.

It’s being called a “hoax” rather than a “scam” because no one is scammed out of any money in the ruse.

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American Cancer Society


One Comment

  1. christina says:

    My church collects these caps also, but it is for dialysis patients I will gladly take ALL of the caps. Thanks!

    1. kris says:


      Do you know for sure who these caps are going to? There have been some people that are saying the caps are definitly going for something and has been for quite some time. There are people saying that they are going to something but I have yet for someone to come forward regarding this. If you can help shed light on this it would be great!

  2. Mia says:

    I hate to break the news to you but the dialysis cap collection and the cap collection for prosthetic limbs, and caps for veterans are all a version of this scam…..

    There are two recycling programs that are legitimate. Yoplait has Save Lids to Save Lives. They donated between 500k to 1.6 m towards the Susan G Komen for the Cure.

    Also Thon, or Four Diamonds, at Penn State raises money for pediatric cancer patients at the Hershey Medical Center.
    The What is the Four Diamonds Recycling Effort?
    The Four Diamonds Recycling Effort (4DRE) is an easy way to make money for the Four Diamonds Fund. Anyone can register to begin collecting uncrushed aluminum cans that are then recycled and the funds donated to THON. THON OPPerations Captains work closely with Penn State OPP to drop off, collect, and count bags of aluminum cans.

  3. John says:

    The American Cancer Society is a “racket” itself.

  4. John says:

    The American Cancer Society is like so many other charities. So much of the money that is taken in,goes to administrative and overhead costs,and very little goes to the actual charity.

    Down here in Somerset County,PA, so many people get “gung-ho” for this ‘Relay For Life’ that is held each year. They say that the money taken in, goes towards research. If people saw how much (or how little) actually goes towards research, they would quit giving in a heartbeat,and their donations would be greatly reduced. That is alot of money,that is taken out of an area, that has high unemployment. That money could stay here in Somerset County, for local projects. All this money taken in for (supposed) research, and they’re no closer to a cure/cause now, then they were 40,50 years ago.

    I saw an article several months ago, where a telemarketing firm that does collections/donations for American Cancer Society, keeps upwards of 89% of the money taken in on a campaign, and only 11% goes to American Cancer Society. (I saw another figure where the telemarketing firm keeps 92 % and the American Cancer Society only gets 8% of whatever is taken in)
    These telemarketing companies are the big winners in these telephone campaigns, not the American Cancer Society, or any other charity for that matter.

    1. 2059 says:

      This is why I NEVER give to anything!!!!

  5. Jody says:


    This is the link to learn about donating caps to Aveda. They use them for their bottles. It’s not helping cancer patients but it is a way to recycle the caps still. You just give them to a salon that sells Aveda or to the store at Ross Park Mall. They are happy to take them.

  6. Izzy says:

    That is why I give locally to the Cancer Caring Center – they give free services to cancer patients in Western PA.

Comments are closed.

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