Gift Shops Operate to Benefit Volunteer and Patient Programs
Volunteer Voice - Spring 2008
The Volunteer Gift Shop operation has grown up with M. D. Anderson. Records show that the very first gift shop was a very small shop at the old Bertner entrance to the hospital. Completely run by volunteers - no staff, the space was tiny with pull-down metal accordion doors that sealed off the window after closing.
From that humble beginning, the Lutheran Hospital shop opened in the early to mid seventies and the Clark Clinic shop opened in the late seventies. Under the direction of Page Lawson, former director of Volunteer Services, these shops continued with volunteer support but were now managed by paid staff.
Marie Gay (L), director of Volunteer Services, discusses shop sales with Mrs. Floy Silberman (R), volunteer, in the original hospital gift shop. In the background you can see one item no longer sold at M. D. Anderson.
As the M. D. Anderson campus grew, so did the gift shop operation. The Rotary House shop opened February of 1993 and the Canteen was added in the Patient/Family Center in April 1996. In January 1999, the Lutheran shop was closed and the Alkek Gift and Flower Shop opened in The Park. In February 2005, both the Mays Clinic Gift Shop and Appearances opened.
Last year, the gift shops transferred $300,000 in operational proceeds to Volunteer Services for use in supporting volunteer activities and patient programs. Examples of areas that benefit from these funds are:
- Nine teen volunteer college scholarships
- Coffee Craft Cart refreshments and supplies
- Newspapers and mints for patients
- Full or partial funding of Anderson Network programs:
- Partners in Knowledge, News in Cancer (PIKNIC)
- Employee Cancer Support Group
- Caregiver Program
- Volunteer recruitment and promotional brochures
- Printing of the “Volunteer Voice” newsletter
- Support of numerous volunteer programs including Weekend Bingo, Hospital Santa Day, Patient Hat Cart and magazine subscriptions for the Patient/Family Library.
From early beginnings to the present, the Volunteer Gift Shops have grown to number six: Alkek Flower and Gift Shop, Clark Clinic Gift Shop, Canteen Snack Shop, Rotary Gift Shop, Mays Clinic Gift Shop and including one speciality shop, Appearances. There are approximately 50 volunteers who man the shops during the year and just over 30 more teen volunteers who help out during the summer months. The gift shops sell everything from soft drinks and snacks, books and greeting cards to miscellaneous toiletries, head coverings and clothing and gifts and seasonal items. In addition, M. D. Anderson logo products and Children’s Art Project products are sold.
Today, the gift shops are managed by former volunteer Sandy Gomel. During her volunteer days, Sandy was a floor host, but her retail experience led her to a paid staff position when the opening arose. She oversees 20 fulltime staff and 80 volunteers.
Long time gift shop volunteers include Harriet Friedman, who has volunteered for 20 years. She was here when the Lutheran shop was open and currently volunteers in the Alkek shop. Cynthia Click, Canteen Shop, is next in line and has volunteered at M. D. Anderson for more than 16 years.