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story.lead_photo.caption The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute Auxiliary is a volunteer organization that provides information, services, compassion and hope to cancer patients and their caregivers. The auxiliary is raising funds for their programs by selling Partners Cards, a program which Beth Jackson helped to start. - Photo by Cary Jenkins

With the holidays approaching, how does a 20-percent discount on your next shopping trip sound? Even better, what if buying a card that guarantees the discount helps patients at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute?

This is the 15th year that the cancer institute's volunteer auxiliary has raised funds for the institute by selling the $50 Partners Cards. More than 250 businesses in central and Northwest Arkansas have partnered with the auxiliary by offering the discount from Oct. 26-Nov. 4.

"The success of Partners Cards is a great source of pride to both Julie and me," says Beth Jackson. She and Julie Fulgham founded the Partners Card program in Little Rock. "We delight in the wonderful projects it has provided, the thousands of people who have saved money on their shopping experience and the excitement shown by the merchants from high sales volume and new customers."

In 2003, Jackson says, there was a need for additional money to help patients, doctors and caregivers at the cancer institute and at the time the auxiliary only had one fundraiser.

Jackson is familiar with the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. "My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 1976. I was her primary caregiver and I realized how much volunteers can improve the care of a cancer patient and their caregiver."

So where did the Partners Card fundraiser come from?

"Julie was president of the Cancer Center auxiliary and I was the V.P. [vice president]. Janie Lowe was the volunteer coordinator and overseer of the organization's projects. Julie and I brainstormed ideas for new ways to raise money to meet the request and needs."

Both women have daughters who live in Dallas and had both participated in a Partners Card program there. "We thought it was possible that we could make it work in Little Rock. Janie, Julie and I are all past presidents of the Junior League and we know how to put together a project and organize volunteers."

The women contacted the Dallas Partners Card group and bought a copy of their "How-To" manual and they were off and running, Jackson says. "In the fall of 2004 we kicked off the first Partners Card in Little Rock. We now have over 250 stores, 350 volunteers and proceeds of over $150,000 per year."

"The timing of Partners Card is always in the fall, this year Oct. 26 through Nov. 4. -- great Christmas shopping time," Jackson says. "Partners Card is truly a win-win-win fundraiser. But the real beneficiary is the cancer patient who comes to [Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute] and doesn't have a place to stay or money for food and a few creature comforts while taking their treatments."

Jackson says over the last 15 years -- with the profits from Partners Card and their gift shop -- the auxiliary has donated $750,000 to housing, food and comfort items for patients and donated $200,000 toward a new breast imaging machine.

"The Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Cancer Center Auxiliary has been able to fulfill grant wishes from doctors or provide a small respite to a patient and their caregiver," Jackson says. "The result makes our efforts seem small and the reward great."

Proceeds from the cards have helped with a variety of needs including buying wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy, a supplement pantry, oncology massages for patients and a support fund.

The auxiliary also awards grants for the development of cancer outreach programs, education and volunteer programs. Sponsors take care of the administrative and production costs, so that 100 percent of the money from buying a card goes to the auxiliary.

Participating stores are in the Little Rock area, Conway and Northwest Arkansas.

Cards can be bought at uamspartnerscard.com. The website also offers an interactive map and a list of participating stores. Cards are also available from auxiliary members, participating stores or by calling (501) 686-8286.

Photo by Cary Jenkins
“The Partner Card formula is truly a partnership,” says Beth Jackson. “For one week, local merchants offer a 20 percent discount to cardholders who have purchased a $50 card from either a merchant or a volunteer. One hundred percent of that $50 goes to support projects that will benefit cancer patients.”

High Profile on 10/14/2018

Print Headline: Partners Card volunteers, buyers aid cancer institute

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