Holly Driscoll Had a Fine Idea, but It Left Her in the Soup

updated 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

In her own small way, Holly Driscoll is a pretty big thinker. Just ask the folks at the post office where mail, addressed simply to "Holly: Washburn, Wis.," has been piling up. Not junk mail, or fan mail, or bills. Labels. Lots and lots of labels.

It seems that a few months ago, 8-year-old Holly came across some advertising from the Campbell Soup Company describing its "Labels for Education" program. Send in labels from the company's soup and other products (Pepperidge Farm cookies, Vlasic pickles, Prego spaghetti sauce and others), and we'll send your school a premium, it said. A few hundred labels could earn anything from books to balls; 82,700 bought a computer. Thinking big, Holly decided to go for the grand whopper of premiums—a 15-seat Dodge Maxi Van requiring a daunting 975,000 labels. Holly figured that the 48 students in her former school, St. Louis Catholic, could use the vehicle for field trips (she transferred to the Washburn Public School in December). "You could fit a whole class in it and go most anywhere," she says, "Duluth, or even the nursing home in town on cold days."

Trouble was, even if Holly convinced all of Washburn's 2,008 residents to go on a soup-only diet, it would take a lifetime to collect almost a million labels. So last December, while she was in nearby Ashland having a tonsillectomy, she had her biggest idea—to call up TV stations and newspapers in Duluth, about 90 miles away. Her mother, Kathy, a nursery school teacher, and her father, Winfred, a chef, were quite surprised when camera crews and reporters began appearing at her bedside. They were even more surprised when labels started arriving—from Texas, Pennsylvania and even Alaska.

Now Holly has 60,000 labels and is eating soup like crazy (her favorite: alphabet with meatballs). "I figure by the time I'm 9½, we should have enough, and the school should have a van," she says. "By then, I'll be ready to move on to other things."

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