SIKESTON - It's amazing what a difference a few empty cans can make.
A little over 2 1/2 years ago Della Hubbard asked residents to drop off their empty aluminum cans as a communitywide project to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
In response to her request, the community hauled in bag after bag of cans. To date, residents have tossed $4,000-$5,000 worth of aluminum cans into the trailer set up specifically for the St. Jude project at Inside Lane, Highway 61 N.
Excited about the project's success, she hopes Sikeston and the surrounding area will join her in collecting even more cans, which will mean special recognition for the community. St. Jude honors groups and individuals who have made large donations by placing plaques featuring the individual or group name on special walls in the hospital. The larger the donation, the larger the plaque.
A few months ago she opened an account for Sikeston at St. Jude which will enable the hospital to keep track of the amount Sikeston has sent in. Currently the Friends and Neighbors of Sikeston account holds $3,567.44.
"That wall is full of plaques and I just feel it would be nice for Sikeston to have some recognition for what it's doing for St. Jude," she said. "What is nice is they don't say in memory of or anything on the plaque so it doesn't remind parents of their loss. They phrase it differently, giving the contributor recognition."
What Hubbard wants to see is Sikeston's name on one of the 4 by 6-inch granite plaques displayed in the supporters' area outside the cafeteria in recognition of those who donate $10,000-$25,000.
Since St. Jude opened in 1962, it has treated 19,000 children from across the United States and 60 foreign countries.
St. Jude has approximately 4,000 patients in active status, treating children without regard to race, religion, belief or ability to pay. All costs associated with treatment beyond what is covered by insurance are paid. Families with no insurance are never asked for a cent.
The hospital's daily operating costs are approximately $715,200 which are primarily covered by public contributions, which is why Hubbard said she feels so strongly about helping fund the facility's research and treatment of potentially fatal childhood diseases.
And every donation is important, said Anita Moore, whose 14-year-old daughter, Holly, has been in remission from leukemia for 17 months. "People who go to St. Jude don't always have the money to pay for the treatments and in those cases St. Jude takes care of the cost."
Added Hubbard: "The people at St. Jude are the most caring people you'll ever meet. They treat children regardless of whether they are able to pay and all of the children are treated the same. Those doctors and nurses are truly dedicated to their profession."
Proud of her community's response so far, Hubbard said she believes even more cans can be donated. She pointed out the trailer is there for donations 24 hours a day and it is in a well-lighted area.
"We've already done such a great job and it also helps the environment because they tell me cans never disintegrate. We've been getting in $300-$500 a month in cans since around the first of May. I thank everyone so much for helping this very good cause and would encourage anyone in that area to visit St. Jude, they will be so impressed with what they see."
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Friends and Neighbors of Sikeston may do so by sending it to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Friends and Neighbors of Sikeston Account 7045494, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tenn. 38105. That money will go toward the goal of reaching the $10,000 mark.
One man's junk really is another man's treasure.