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An army of volunteers help the Children's Art Project retail team

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By Claudia Giertz, MD Anderson Staff Writer

120810CApvolunteer2.JPGOnce a week, Amy McWhorter stops at several local supermarkets to run errands. She's not just buying groceries, however.

Amy is one of almost 500 Adopt-A-Display volunteers who manage Children's Art Project (CAP) product displays in stores across five states. Each display contains cards and gift items featuring artwork designed by MD Anderson's pediatric patients. Volunteers play a critical role in managing CAP's retail inventory that, literally, couldn't be done without them.

Becoming an Adopt-A-Display volunteer entails counting the number of products on each display, recording the findings and sending them back to the CAP retail team. If displays are running low on products, new inventory is sent to each store directly, where volunteers then ensure products are restocked. Volunteers also ensure fixtures are arranged properly, in good condition and situated in a prominent location.

Currently, volunteers service retail locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Florida and Louisiana. However, there is always a need for more Adopt-A-Display volunteers, especially during the holiday season.

McWhorter began participating in the Adopt-A-Display program six years ago after hearing about it through the National Charity League, a nonprofit organization designed to provide community outreach opportunities for mothers and their daughters. She now supports several grocery stores across Houston.

Important role

"Anybody can do it, whether you're the CEO of a corporation, retired or a stay-at-home mom," McWhorter says. "You're going to the grocery store at least once a week anyway, so why not spend some time making a difference for a program that supports children with cancer."

Since 1973, CAP has raised more than $30 million through product sales, which fund important educational, emotional and recreational programs at MD Anderson for young patients and their families. It's these programs that McWhorter feels a connection to through her efforts.

"I know the most important role for the retail team is to sell as many items as possible because at the end of the day, this is how we support children with cancer," she says.

Volunteer involvement is just one way the Adopt-A-Display program is able to thrive. Retail venders carry CAP products at no profit to their stores and consider it a community service, while some shipping companies deliver fixtures at no cost. It's this team effort, along with the volunteer network, that makes the program successful.

"Our volunteers make a measurable difference because without their support it would be very difficult to manage all our displays," says Sue Molin, CAP's retail manager. "For us, it's always special when volunteers say they feel like they're making a difference for children with cancer."

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, please call 1-800-231-1580 and ask to speak with the Adopt-A-Display coordinator, or email retail@childrensart.org. A few minutes out of your week could mean the world to a child with cancer.


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