by Bethany Cosand
Walmart employee Rich Works and his wife, Teara, with their sons Carson, left, and Cole, a former Children's Hospital patient. Photo courtesy Walmart
In the past 21 years, Walmart, through their sponsorship of Children's Miracle Network (CMN), has given $3.8 million to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. It has been the efforts of behind-the-scenes employees at regional Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs who have made this possible, bringing in dollar after dollar to raise millions.
With CMN, 100 percent of all funds go directly to a region's designated children's hospital. Children's Hospital is the recipient hospital for the Middle Tennessee/Southern Kentucky region. Every penny of the donations from CMN is put into the Children's Fund, which financially helps patients and families of Children's Hospital.
In the Middle Tennessee/Southern Kentucky region, there are 60 Walmart stores, seven Sam's Clubs and two Walmart distribution centers. Collectively, these stores have donated $3.8 million since 1987 to Children's Hospital. The majority of the revenue comes in through sales of the CMN hot-air-balloon-shaped paper icons, which are sold in stores during various periods throughout the year.
More than 600 Walmart, Sam's Club and distribution center employees in the region participate in CMN fund raising on an annual basis. When the individual Walmart and Sam's Club stores do their own in-store fund raising, aside from selling the icons at cash registers, the time spent on this must be during the employees' personal time.
Judy Argo and Rhonda Key, both customer service managers at the Walmart store #668 in McMinnville, Tenn., coordinate their store's CMN fund raising. They host an array of events throughout the year to raise money. One of the major activities they organize is "Coins for Kids," where they place collection jars in classrooms at elementary schools in the area and educate the students on the program. They communicate to the children that their money is going to help other children like them. As a reward for their efforts, the class who collects the most coins for CMN gets a pizza party.
This duo is very enthusiastic about their participation with CMN. Their store co-manager really supports what they do, and this, they say, makes all the difference.
"We've got a great team," Argo said of her co-workers at the McMinnville store. "The activities can require a lot of work from us at times, but in the end, it is very rewarding."
"Walmart and Sam's Club associates continue to amaze us with their outstanding fund-raising efforts," said Lisa Dill, director of Children's Miracle Network for Children's Hospital. "They are truly dedicated and committed to CMN fund raising, and they're some of the most caring and community-oriented volunteers I've had the pleasure of working with."
The two Walmart distribution centers play an integral role in producing significant fund-raising dollars, despite their lack of opportunity to incorporate customers. Last year, the two centers collected more than $100,000 through community events to give to Children's Hospital. The various fund-raising activities have included golf tournaments, motorcycle rides and silent auctions.
Last year, the employees at the Walmart Distribution Center #6066 in Hopkinsville, Ky., held two golf tournaments, one in the spring and another in the fall. These two events raised $37,344. Another one of their major efforts to raise money was the "CMN Parking" auction, where associates bid on parking spaces close to the building, and the winning bidders got to park in their designated spots for the month. This clever fund-raiser brought in $1,747.
Rich Works, an operations manager in receiving at the Hopkinsville distribution center, actively participates in the CMN fund-raising at his location. Last year, his involvement with CMN became much more personal. His son, Cole, 5, suffered a serious head injury while vacationing in Wisconsin. Although initially treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Works and his wife, Teara, chose to bring Cole to Children's Hospital for his numerous follow-up visits.
"It's been absolutely nothing but a great experience," Works said in reference to his visits to Children's Hospital. "You can tell that those doctors are there for the kids."
Works has been employed with Walmart for 15 years, and he has always helped out where he could with CMN activities. But "it means a lot more now," he said, "after seeing what goes on at [Children's Hospital]."
© 2016 Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt