As Thanksgiving approaches there are a million charities that are sending pictures, letters, free address labels all in attempt to collect donations. And I have no doubt that all of these charities are good at the core, helping the homeless, saving starving puppies, helping build a new children’s hospital, etc, etc, etc…
Well, I’m no charity so I’m certainly not asking you for any money (but I’ll be MORE than willing to take any sort of donation to the Kendra Peterson for Jimmy Choo’s Foundation). However I would like to let you know about one of the three charities* that I have dedicated my business charitable donations and my personal charitable donations to. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN is one of the most amazing organizations I have ever come across. The foundation and hospital were founded by Danny Thomas in 1962 and since then have become one of the leading researchers in children’s cancer. Since St. Jude was established the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (the most common form of childhood cancer) has increased from 4% in 1962 to 94% today. It’s advancements like these that I think are so amazing and the are because of any and every donation that comes into St.Jude.
I could go on for pages and pages about how incredible the charity is and every amazing thing they provide for their patients and families but I will make my message a bit more concise so you aren’t reading for days (there really are that many incredible details!!). I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the hospital last year and here are some of the things that touched me the most:
· On site lab: some of the cancers treated at St.Jude are so rare that it’s not profitable for large drug manufacturers to produce medicine for those in need of it. St. Jude refused to accept that and now produces their own drugs on site to make sure everyone gets the medicine they need whether they make 5 pills per year or 5 thousand.
· Cafeteria: the cafeteria recently received a huge face-lift, with different themed food areas that provide nutritious and fun cuisine for patients, staff, families and visitors. Example- the gelato/bakery counter (which looks like an old soda fountain shop and has stools sized for kids and adults) where kids can come and decorate their own cookies and cupcakes and can get house-made gelato.
· Each treatment area was a different theme: my favorite area was new york. The floor tile looked like sidewalk and grass, the walls had skyscrapers painted along with trees and a central park theme and the ceiling tile had different shaped tiles to look like sky and clouds!
· In-patient rooms: Critical care patients have their own private rooms (fully stocked with fun stuff including Wii!) and parents have a separate adjoining suite so the parents can be near their child during intensive treatment and the patients feel that they have their own space.
· Outpatient: Most of the treatment at St. Jude is outpatient and through generous private and corporate donations, housing is provided for families as well as gift cards (for food, phone calls, gas, etc.) to ensure they have what they need while the children are going through treatment.
· There are no white walls at St. Jude. They don’t want the hospital to look like a sterile, scary hospital so there is no wall in the facility that is white. Whether there is artwork from the patients hung, pictures of supporting celebrities hanging or murals painted this hospital feels like anything but a hospital.
· Blood supply: More than 50% of blood supply in hospital come from employees
· Teen zone: There are “hang out areas” where parents not allowed. There are tv’s, magazines, games all geared toward teens so they can have fun and feel like a teenager. Many pop teen artists also come and perform for the patients in the Teen Zone.
· St. Jude treatment is free to patients. (You must be referred by a doctor and it must be a cancer they are currently researching, which is almost every childhood cancer)
These incredible tid-bits of information about St. Jude are just some of the reasons that I choose to support such an incredible hospital. The advancements that St. Jude has been able to make in medicine are a direct result of the amazing support they have received, whether it is a $1.00 donation or a $100,000 donation. Every little bit counts and with the holidays approaching St. Jude is sending out a fantastic message that can touch everyone- “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not. ” And if you would like to donate or just learn more about St. Jude you can do so here: www.tg.stjude.org
There are also many retailers that participate in the “Thanks and Giving” campaign; Williams-Sonoma companies (pottery barn, pb kids, pb teen, WS Home and West Elm), target, brooks brothers, ann taylor among many others which are all listed at the aforementioned website.
Thank you for taking the time to read about an amazing charity! And whether you choose to donate or not, be sure to give thanks for the healthy children in your life.
*Other charities I choose to donate to are- Imerman Angels, www.imermanangels.org