By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Special Interest | Issue: January 2008
Volunteers Lena Benzel, Elsie Kuck and Gladys Scott know how great it feels to help others.
Give a little, get a lot. That is what it is like to volunteer at St. John Medical Center’s gift shop. Perhaps the happiest spot in the hospital, this cheerful and friendly store offers more than just flowers and gifts. Its volunteers are fulfilled knowing they have helped the largest fundraising project of the St. John Auxiliary. Additional volunteers are currently in high demand to help the gift shop continue on its mission to support the hospital.
Upon walking into St. John’s gift shop, each shopper is greeted with a warm welcome. Cheerful music plays in the background, and an abundance of sensory delights are arranged throughout the store. Available are crystal and ceramic home décor items, all artfully displayed for the season, as well as toys, Betty Boop items, cookbooks, cooking accessories and numerous other whimsical things to make anyone smile.
Several boutique areas in the store feature displays of many items. An array of fragrant candles of all types is always a customer favorite. Also available is sparkling jewelry, collegiate clothing and one of the largest color and style selections of Crocs shoes in Tulsa. Or stop by to try a dab of the luxurious creams and lotions that medical personnel cannot live without.
Most shoppers stop by the gift shop in search of fresh flowers or gifts for friends or family in the hospital. However, many are pleasantly surprised to leave with just the right birthday, wedding or housewarming gift. Some people just stop in for a pleasant break from the stress of having a hospitalized loved one. Shoppers arrive weary and leave with a smile.
The hospital gift shop is the primary source of funding for the St. John Auxiliary. All proceeds are currently being applied to the purchase of seven digital mammography machines that are already in use at St. John. The project’s total cost is approximately $2 million. A check for $400,000 was presented in December by the St. John Auxiliary to the hospital for the project. And, with a little help, the check presented to the hospital in December 2008 could be even larger.
St. John’s gift shop, which is located near the visitors’ desk on the first floor of the J.A. Chapman Tower, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Angelina Blackmon, gift shop director, says the store could offer extended hours on weekends if there were more volunteers. Morning hours on the weekends carry the heaviest traffic and the greatest potential for business. Unfortunately, there are not enough volunteers to open the shop at that time.
There is no patient care involved in volunteering in the gift shop, and no experience is needed. Volunteers do not have to operate the cash register if they do not want to. If it is preferred, shelves can be stocked or phone orders can be taken for flowers and gifts to be delivered upstairs. Just four hours of your time is all it takes. Friends or couples can work together, too. And, for added convenience, valet parking at the main entrance makes it quick and easy to get in and out of the hospital.
Those who volunteer at least 50 hours each year become active St. John Auxiliary members. Gladys Scott, who has been a volunteer for 18 years, says she spends more time at the gift shop during the winter months when she does not have as much yard work.
According to Elsie Kuck, a volunteer, when you help make a difference in someone’s life, the biggest reward may be in your own life. “You can come in not feeling so great and leave feeling glad that you volunteered your time to help out the hospital, its patients and the people who come here to visit,” she says.
If you wish to spare a few hours and a smile, call the St. John Auxiliary at (918) 744-2198. Gift shop volunteers are also needed for the St. John Medical Center in Owasso.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.