MORENO VALLEY ( — Students at a Moreno Valley elementary school Wednesday presented nearly $3,000 worth of can tabs they collected to help pay for expenses related to a classmate’s ear operation.

More than 30 gallons of can tabs were given to Amir Walton and his parents at a special end-of-school assembly at Ridge Crest Elementary School.

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“I am thankful for the school to do this for me,” Amir said. “Thank you guys for my tabs for my ear.”

“My initial thought is to cry. I’m so emotional about it. It’s breathtaking,” Amir’s mother said.

The second-grader was born without a fully formed right ear, reducing his hearing to only about 20 percent.

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While Amir will likely never have use of his right ear, doctors can help him by taking cartilage from other parts of his body to reconstruct his ear.

“All they’re going to do when they have the surgery is just make it look like his other ear. They can’t help the hearing or any of that,” Amir’s mother said.

The surgery, however, is around $40,000.

Although Shriners Hospitals for Children, which agreed to perform the multiple surgeries, provides care regardless of the family’s ability to pay, the students raised money to offset Amir’s other surgery-related expenses.

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“To have the support from the school is just like…it’s a blessing. That’s all I can say,” Amir’s father said.