DEAR SUN SPOTS: Last year you had a column stating fronts of old Christmas cards could be sent to St. Jude’s.
I recently sent a small donation to St. Jude, and then a couple of days ago I received a Christmas ornament that looked as if it was made from a Christmas card. I would have assumed some of the children who were able, or volunteers, would make the ornaments out of the cards.
However, I was very disappointed that the ornament came in a cellophane wrapper that said "made in China"! What is the story on this? — Hazel Cole, Greenwood, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANSWER: Sun Spots nearly muffed this question, but thanks to some questioning from copy editor Mary, she went back for a second look and discovered some confusion due to the name "St. Jude."
Sun Spots started by emailing media relations at St. Jude's Children's Hospital. She got the following answer from Sherry Howard in donor services, ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis.
"Thank you and your wonderful readers for supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and taking the time to share your concerns with us regarding the Christmas Ornament. We are so grateful for your support — support that truly makes a difference in the lives of our patients. As you may know, we rely on the public’s generosity for 75 percent of the funding we need to support our lifesaving mission of finding cures and saving children. We value every dollar we receive and are committed to making sure that we are good stewards of the donations we get from generous friends like you.
"In regards to the Christmas ornaments, we seek vendors and partners that share that same philosophy and look for the best and most competitive prices for the items we use in our fundraising efforts. We partner with a U.S.-based company to produce some specialty items like ornaments, notepads and confetti packs.
"To get the best price for these particular pieces, the company we work with does outsource with a third-party vendor in China. This enables us to save more than $3 million in expenses. In the end, that allows us to direct more money towards the patient care and research that helps the kids of St. Jude, which is our number one priority.
"I hope this information helps. We truly appreciate your loyal support. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact Donor Services at 1-800-822-6344 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. CST."
This reply doesn't really explain about how the greeting cards are used, or not used, in the ornaments or other projects. When Sun Spots asked that follow-up question, the children's hospital told her that they don't accept or use greeting cards; that it is the St. Jude Ranch for Children that takes the cards. She said the two organizations are not related.
Sun Spots then emailed with Sarah Sheehan, director of community relations, for the ranch. She wrote:
"We are a small nonprofit based in Nevada caring for abused, abandoned and neglected children and families in Texas and Nevada. There are grueling statistics when it comes to our demographic (foster children), and one of them is that seven out of 10 of them will become homeless within 18 months of aging out of the foster care system.
"Our card program helps to prepare our teenagers for a successful transition into adulthood. We want our kids to be the three out of those 10 in that awful stat."
The ranch is still taking cards. Their rules for doing so are outlined on their website, www.stjudesranch.org (specifically http://tinyurl.com/8ab2tsg). They note on their website that they currently have an increased need for birthday and thank-you cards.
Some of the rules are:
* All types of greeting cards, including Christmas are used.
* Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the back side is clear of any writing, etc.)
* They cannot accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards.
* The 5- by 7-inch size or smaller is preferred.
Mail donations to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Recycled Card Program, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005
After refurbishing the cards, they sell the recycled cards at 10 for $10. Sarah urged readers to buy as well as donate. To shop, visit them online, write to the address above or call 877-977-SJRC (7572).
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