Don't Forget Charity for All
Since Sept. 11, its been difficult for jewelers to focus on charitable giving, aside from helping the victims of the terrorist attacks of that awful day. The jewelry industry has responded admirably to the call, from the watch industrys A Time to Aid coalition to a campaign by the Armenian Jewelers of the Western United States to raise $100,000 for New York Fire Department families. The Gemological Institute of America also donated proceeds from its League of Honor Founders Dinner to the Sept. 11 Relief Fund, and the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York decided to forgo its traditional banquet gifts and Midnight Bash and donate instead to the victims. Zale Corp. and its employees gave $250,000 to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. Hundreds of other suppliers and retailers have contributed also. Bravo to all of you who gave when it would have been far easier to demur due to business conditions.
As wonderful as these donations were, I feel compelled to note there are many other charitable causes this industry supports that will continue to need your help in 2002. Please keep attending fund-raisers and annual dinners for groups such as the Jewelry and Watch Division of the National Conference for Community and Justice and the United Jewish Appeal. Year after year, these groups help various needy groups here and overseas.
And, please, dont forget the Jewelers Charity Fund for Children, which continues to raise money for St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Glaser Pediatric Research Network, and the Make a Wish Foundation. I recently listened in by teleconference to an open meeting during which the JCF Board of Directors toured the JCF Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at St. Judes in Memphis, TN, funded with $1.5 million raised by the charity. That this endowment was completed in three years is extraordinary, said St. Judes Phil McCarty. While there, the group also witnessed the fulfillment of a local girls wish for a newly decorated bedroom, as requested of the Make a Wish Foundation.
The board also heard a moving speech from a beneficiary of the Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Florence Ngobeni, who traveled from a clinic in the troubled township of Soweto in South Africa. The clinic counsels pregnant women who come to be tested for the HIV virus. Ngobeni is one of many helping the 25%-30% of women whose tests are positive to learn to take medication that will prevent their babies from becoming infected. Ngobeni herself lost a child to AIDS-related illnesses, she revealed. The Soweto clinic is a model for one JCF is now funding in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The group wants to raise $450,000 over the next two years for the cause of preventing mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus. More and more children will live now due to your help in fighting mother-to-child transmission, said Ngobeni.
JCF will hold its annual fund-raising dinner in Las Vegas in June, and retail jewelers also continue to raise money through customer donations. For more information, contact JCF at 11529 Tralee Drive, Great Falls, VA 22066; JewelersCharity@aol.com.
Peggy Jo Donahue