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Giving A Boost
CHORI Breaks Fundraising Record

Every year, a handful of dedicated, volunteer staff at CHORI, who has organized themselves into the group, CHORI CARES, work behind the scenes to raise funds for families of children staying at the hospital branch of Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland. This year, in spite of the bleak economy, the group led a variety of fundraising events that broke all previous fundraising records.

""We're a volunteer group that just wants to give back to the Oakland community in general, and the hospital community specifically."


Throughout the year, the CHORI CARES group runs a variety of fundraisers, including pizza and bake sales, as well as a toiletry products drive, which was in direct response to a request from the hospital.

"Families frequently experience unexpected overnight stays, or longer stays than expected, and need toiletries," explains Karen Catanese, who leads the CHORI CARES group. "We collected unopened bottles of shampoos, conditioners, little soaps, toothpaste, a whole variety of different things that people donated, and we made up little overnight bags that could be handed out to the people that needed them."

The piece de resistance, however, is always the Christmas basket raffle, now in its fourth year. CHORI staff and scientists not only purchase the raffle tickets as part of the fundraising efforts, but also provide the baskets themselves, with individual research labs or staff groups pooling their resources to provide all variety of basket goodies, from hand-made quilts to Tiffany's gift certificates to sweets and treats from 50 years ago.

Given the current state of the economy this year, Ms. Catanese was hopeful, but not expectant, that CHORI would be able to bring in at least as much funds as the previous year. She was wrong - CHORI scientists and staff raised nearly double the funds of any of the last 3 years since the basket raffle began.
"We shattered our past records by bringing in over $3,500 in basket raffle ticket sales alone - our previous high for the basket raffle was only about $1,900."
Together with the pizza and bake-sale fundraising throughout the year, CHORI has over 5 thousand dollars to spend on families in need whose children are staying at the hospital. The majority of the donations will go to the Adopt-A-Family program, which is organized by CHORI IACUC administrator Betsy Lathrop.

"The general idea is to spend about 50 dollars on each child in a family," says Ms. Catanese. "We also buy something small for the caregivers as well, whether they're parents or grandparents or guardians, and then the caregivers also get a gift-certificate to either Target or Safeway. This lets the caregivers buy their own gifts for their kids, as well as food for the holiday."
This year, however, they will be able to spend 80 dollars per child, as well as to contribute to a new program to help families of patients with AIDS who are treated at the hospital.

"It's a great way for us to give back to the community, we are all fortunate to have so much, that it's not just our desire to give to those who have less, but I think it's our responsibility," says Ms. Catanese. "But I also think CHORI gets just as much as they give. We really enjoy doing it and at the same time we're helping meet other needs that families visiting the hospital may have. It gives us a good feeling that we're able to do it."

In 2010, CHORI CARES plans on introducing some new community outreach programs as well, with a group of individuals knitting baby booties for the hospital nursery and folding origami art that will be given to children in the hospital on their food trays.

"The hospital likes to have a little something on every tray to give the kids a little boost where they can," says Ms. Catanese.

Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of CHORI staff and scientists, the hospital will have even more resources this holiday season than before to give that boosts to families who need it.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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