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VOL. 125 | NO. 234 | Thursday, December 2, 2010

Local Groups Provide Feel-Good Gift, Card Options

By Aisling Maki

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‘Tis the season for giving, and despite an uncertain economy – or perhaps because of it – many Mid-Southerners are making charitable donations to honor others this holiday.

“I think maybe the recession has caused everyone to realize how close to needing help we all are,” said Marvin Stockwell, public relations manager for the Church Health Center, which provides affordable health care for working people without insurance, and a wellness ministry for the entire community.

“Lots of people have lost their health benefits. We’re seeing more suburban patients, more patients who’ve felt compelled to tell us that they didn’t ever think they’d need the Church Health Center. And more people are thinking, ‘That could be me, and by the grace of God, it’s not me and I have the ability to give.’”

And nonprofits like the Church Health Center are providing some feel-good gift-giving options this season.

For a tax-deductible minimum donation of $10, the center will send your loved one a holiday card, featuring artwork by Memphis artist Elizabeth Alley, acknowledging that a contribution was made to the center in their honor.

“It’s a wonderful gift to give someone, the gift of helping others,” said Stockwell.

The annual fundraiser is one of the biggest for the nation’s largest faith-based clinic, which operates on a $13 million annual budget and does not rely on government funding.

“We send out upwards of 18,000 cards at a $10 minimum gift per card,” Stockwell said. “This raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we didn’t have the support of people in Memphis, our doors would close. It’s as simple as that.”

“I think maybe the recession has caused everyone to realize how close to needing help we all are. … More people are thinking, ‘That could be me, and by the grace of God, it’s not me and I have the ability to give.’”

– Marvin Stockwell, Church Health Center public relations manager

The Memphis Child Advocacy Center’s Bear Hug cards serve as an important annual fundraiser for its programs, too.

“In 2009, our net revenue was $14,244,” said MCAC spokeswoman Beryl Wight. “In addition to raising funds, the Bear Hugs also help with public awareness, keeping our community’s most vulnerable children in mind during the holiday season.”

The stuffed bear is a symbol of the center, known for its massive wall of them from which, upon arrival, children select one of the cuddly toys to comfort them.

For a minimum of $10, donors can send a teddy bear card to a friend or family member acknowledging a contribution made in their honor to the organization, which serves child victims of physical and sexual abuse.

“They will know that their gift is a gift to children who need it most,” Wight said. “They will feel a true holiday spirit – a gift that benefits the receiver, the giver and the community. Every bear hug card sent this holiday season helps the Memphis Child Advocacy Center provide a warm, welcoming place where kids find safety and can begin healing.”

Other charities sending out holiday cards when donations are made in someone’s honor include the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA), Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis and Union Mission.

Both St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Youth Villages offer cards designed by the children they serve.

Project Green Fork, which certifies local restaurants that demonstrate sustainable practices, is raising funds this holiday season by selling one-of-a-kind, silver-plated recycled green forks that can be used as holiday ornaments or business card holders.

The forks, available for purchase at www.projectgreenfork.org, come with a card to include a personal message. Proceeds will go toward purchasing a recycling trailer.

The Memphis Music Foundation is taking orders for limited-edition glass ornaments hand-painted with the Stax Records logo by Memphis artist Connie Lampen.

Each ornament includes a gift card acknowledging a donation to both the music foundation and the Soulsville Foundation.

Meanwhile, some local businesses are using the holiday season as an opportunity to raise funds for charities they support.

For the 13th year in a row, Malco Theatres employees are making handmade holiday movie theater bows out of celluloid tape.

Proceeds from the sale of the bows, which can be purchased at box offices for $1, will be donated to St. Jude.

“This is one of our most popular fundraisers of the year, raising over $65,000 for St. Jude,” said Karen Scott, Malco director of marketing. “This holiday season, everyone should wrap their gifts with love.”

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173