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The Road to St. Jude

November 16, 2011

There’s no Great Coffee Shop Hunt post this morning because I’m en route to Memphis. Before leaving, I wanted to tell you guys about my trip. Two weeks ago, AOL sent a company-wide email asking for volunteers to travel to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to install ‘mobile computer labs.’ To enter, each person had to submit a short paragraph answering the simple question, ‘Why do you want to go?’

I wrote about the rewarding experience I had volunteering in Nicaragua this summer and how it made me want to volunteer more often and give back to the larger community… and I was chosen, along with 19 other coworkers from around the country. I’m so excited to visit St. Jude, a children’s cancer hospital where no child is ever turned away because of an inability to pay. On average, 5900 patients from all 50 states and around the world visit St. Jude every year. Families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, which means that any and every child can get the best possible care, regardless of financial circumstances. The hospital also provides free housing for families who have to stay overnight, for as long as the treatment takes, meaning that families aren’t split up.

I especially wanted to visit because one of my summer jobs three years ago was at Fundraising Initiatives, Inc., a nonprofit that raises money for various groups and charities. Yes, I was one of those annoying people who accosted you at the mall with a clipboard, but it was for a good cause. Our fundraising partners that summer were SOS Children’s Villages and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

As much as I hated that job, I stayed with it through the summer because it was raising money for two amazing groups, which I learned a lot about while rattling off their stats to an often-board but sometimes-generous audience. (It also instilled in me a strong sense of empathy for all those Planned Parenthood/Greenpeace/ACLU and other clipboard-toting activists always pounding the pavement in DC.)

So back to St. Jude and this week’s trip…

In 2009, AOL donated 20 mobile computer labs to St. Jude and we’re back with 20 more again this week. These laptops-on-wheels allow kids confined to a hospital bed to stay in touch with friends and family far away, as well as simply enjoy being a child of the 21st century with Internet access. Besides just giving the computers, we’ll also get the chance to interact with patients and their families, which is the part I’m most anticipating.

I’ll hopefully have a little time to sightsee while in Memphis — it’s my first time there — and people have given quite a few recommendations about places to eat and sights to see. My hotel is just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, so I’m hoping to spot Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn floating on a raft down the river… or not, who knows?

So that’s what I’m up to this week. See you from Memphis!

Have you been to Memphis? Recommendations? 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2011 7:59 am

    What a wonderful thing you’re doing! It’s going to brighten those kids’ days and put such smiles on their faces!

  2. November 16, 2011 8:03 am

    What a wonderful gift you’re giving those children. It will allow them to connect with family and friends… when going through so much. You are truly an angel…

  3. Anjali permalink
    November 16, 2011 9:09 am

    That is so awesome! cant wait to hear your all about your experience! You go girl!

  4. November 16, 2011 11:44 am

    I’ve never been to Memphis, but I am really jealous that you get to go visit St. Jude!!! My sorority’s philanthropy partner is St. Jude, so I was able to spend a lot of time in college getting to know about the hospital, and even meeting some local patients. I just ran my first marathon to run money for St. Jude, and it was such an amazing experience! I hope you have a great time!!

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