Giving to charity is something that many businesses both large and small do, not just because it’s good for the business, but more importantly it’s good for everyone.
I make no bones about it; my favorite charity is Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, NC. A couple of years ago I started a small art franchise and needed to find a way to get the word out. I tried the Raleigh hospitals but the bureaucracy was insurmountable, even a VP at one of the hospitals couldn’t get anyone to meet with me.
A wonderful administrator from Duke met me accidentally at a meeting. She saw exactly how what I love doing would work with her children. Durham was outside my business area, you know how franchisors set artificial boundaries, yet it was worth a try.
So, I contact a person whose first name was “Summer”. Someone with such a warm shining name had to be good news. So I signed up, just to give it a try.
I went through orientation and we tried a few things out. I quickly learned and am still learning, you can’t teach classroom style art to kids here without making some big changes. They do love to draw, but just someone showing an interest in them is equally important. Many have retrictions that place barriers in their way of being able to do the things they always could. Some kids I draw with, some I draw for, some draw for me and sometimes I just tell a story.
I also learned that being in a children’s hospital doesn’t mean you are that young. You may be older but be developmentally delayed or be suffering from a condition normally reserved by nature for children. That can get you a bed in the children’s ward. I draw with children of all ages, though sometimes I have to overcome my own self consciousness. Everyone needs a smiling face from time to time.
Going into the first Winter, I had an opportunity to see the first signs of how local businesses were helping out. Stores would bring in so much high quality unopened gifts for the kids at Christmas it was wonderful.
In that first year I met a young lad of 16, who loved to draw. Since most of the drawing I taught was too young for him, I would work up special drawings just for him. He would sit there in his mask (to protect him from my germs) and follow me as I would lead him through some new drawing (often new to both of us). As they moved him around in the hospital he would ask for me, so I would go to where he was. (It is one huge hospital).
During Christmas I played an elf in Santa’s workshop, along with other elves. I have a white beard so a few kids mistook me for Santa. I asured them I would pass along anything they told me. (I did when their parents came for gifts) I even got the back of my head on television during this. (I was never very good at PR) My wife noticed I could use a haircut.
The young lad’s folks showed up at the workshop and I got an opportunity to help them “shop” for gifts for his six siblings. They spent nearly every day visiting with him and if it were not for the generosity of the local stores, they would have nothing for the other kids. Dad did the shopping. It was a great feeling being able to help. Mom was too overwhelmed with emotion to shop.
Thanks to the generosity of Wal-Mart and a list too long to provide of other stores, each child got tnice gifts and stocking stuffers. When these stores and their employees provide the gifts they are giving a lot more than they know. For the children and the parents it adds some joy, but it also adds a little normalcy into a world that has been turned upside down. It allows these folks and their kids a chance for one sane day with hope and joy.
The nicest gift the lad’s parents got happened not that month, but the following February when our young lad successfully underwent a lung transplant. I got to see him two days after his surgery. He was with a physical therapist. I thought he would be flat on his back. No, not him, he is such a brave and determined boy. He was working hard at recovering. It was so strange seeing him without his face mask and air tank, breathing on his own.
He pushed gently on his therapist’s arm and said “You can come back later; we are going to do art now.” I wasn’t exactly prepared, though I did have my materials with me, so I improvised and we did art.
I miss doing art with him, but I thank God that his surgery was successful and he can look forward to a full life. Maybe one day he will come back to Duke as a surgeon to help other young lads and ladies.
Wal-Mart played a bigger role than just the gifts for the patients and siblings. They are a major contributor providing funds including for adding beds to the hospital. They have provided a lot of the electronic games and personal cd’s the teenager’s like. They can be found at:
113 May Rd
Durham, NC 27703
A major contributor to Duke Children’s Hospital is McDonald’s which has a Ronald McDonald house office at the hospital. The office is located on the 5100 side of the children’s ward right beside the Child Life playroom. McDonald’s house is especially important to the children and their families who have to travel from far away to have outpatient treatments.
The in hospital office is an administrative location.
For information on the house:
Ronald Mc Donald House-Durham
506 Alexander Ave
Durham, NC 27705
One nearby McDonald’s:
2010 N Roxboro St
Durham, NC 27704
A large hamburger restaurant chain that is helping in a major way is Hardee’s. They have provided at least 16 beds for children undergoing bone marrow and cord blood transplants. The children are so sick and at risk of infection that the Child Life team volunteers, such as me, cannot share with them. There ward sits directly between the two major wards we serve. They have double doors to keep the risk of infection to an absolute minimum. Hardee’s through their corporate and employee generosity have made it possible to save many of these children’s lives.
So when you see those little paper things hanging on the walls, windows or the ceiling of these restaurants, think of them as the “Smiles of Precious Children” seeing another birthday because of you.
3912 N Duke St
Durham, NC 27704
Many celebrities contribute to the hospital; Perry Como, Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford charities have all been notable contributors to the Duke Children’s Hospital.
One of particular notable is the Jimmy V funded out patient chemotheraphy facility. Many, many of the children with Cancer end up with a need that this facility provides. Jimmy V was a very popular NC State coach, a hall of fame member and ESPN commentator who passed on with terminal cancer. A member of family tells me his brother, who heads up the charity, spends most days now running (or flying) all over the country raising funds to keep hope alive for so many through research. This charity may appeal especially to basketball fans.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research
106 Towerview Court
Cary, North Carolina 27513
One special charity choice that is supported by a plethora of business people is the hospital’s own “Duke Children’s Classic” golf tournament. Jeff and Gregg Foxworthy are the hosts for the upcoming May 19, 2006 tournament.
This event, begun in 1974. It brings together local and national celebrities who are engaged in sports, acting and comedy to raise money through a fantastic golf tournament. Corporations, philanthropists and businessmen purchase sponsorships that allow from one to ten persons to be paired with these celebrities. The businesses get excellent advertisement while the kids get a chance for a life.
Whether you want to be generous, would like to rub shoulders with some of America’s leading celebrities or are just nuts about golf, this could be your tournament.
To join upcall:
Kristen Johnson, Director of Special Events
Duke Children’s Classic
Duke University Golf Club
May 19 – May 21, 2006 Fri-Sun: 9am – 3pm
Free admission (to watch)
There is a great picture of Jeff on the site in his surgical gown. Larry the Cable Guy will probably be at this tournament too.
Corporate sponsorships start at $12,500 and go to $100,000. Number of playing positions is from one to four depending on how generous your company gives. Sponsorships below these will get you some advertising and an opportunity to attend the parties.
If you want to watch, though it is free, you may need tickets,so please call ahead.