The days of dropping change into a jar at the cash register for a charity are dwindling as most consumers have switched to using debit cards. Hy-Vee and Fareway are providing a way for customers to continue to donate their change by encouraging them to “round up” their purchases to the next dollar amount with the proceeds going to charity.
For the fourth year, Hy-Vee has partnered with Pinky Swear to raise money for families who have children with cancer. From Aug. 1 to 18, customers can donate at the checkout in all of Hy-Vee’s more than 260 stores.
In 2002 Mitch Chepokas, 9, was undergoing chemotherapy when he heard another family discussing their lack of funds for Christmas. Mitch convinced his father to drive him to the bank where he withdraw his savings and filled envelopes to give to the children in the oncology unit.
Afterwards, Mitch told his father he had so much fun doing this he wanted to do it again the next year. Unfortunately, Mitch’s prognosis wasn’t good and he wasn’t expected to make it to the next Christmas. Before he died, Mitch made his father “pinky swear’ to continue to help children with cancer.
Funds raised by Pinky Swear help provide families with basic needs and emotional support while their children are in treatment. Support can include help with mortgage or bill payments, travel and meals during treatment and experiences for the family to connect outside of the hospital.
In 2018, Pinky Swear raised more than $2 million, with 76% of that money going towards their mission of helping families. An additional 17% was used for fundraising, leaving 7% used for management expenses.
According to Aubrin Collier, Creston Hy-Vee human resources manager, Hy-Vee’s contribution to the program include advertising and incentives to its employees who encourage the most customers to donate.
Fareway has had a similar donation program for the Muscular Dystrophy Association from Aug. 5 to 10.
Beginning Oct. 2 to 21, Fareway will be donating the proceeds from its round up program to Variety - the Children’s Charity for the third year. Fareway has been supporting Variety for more than 30 years.
Variety supports more than 70 children’s charities throughout Iowa and the surrounding states through grant opportunities in categories such as camp scholarships, preventative measures to help keep children healthy, projects for special-needs or at-risk children, and children in need of emergency shelter or treatment due to physical or chemical abuse.
Variety was founded in 1927 by a group of 11 men in show business in Pennsylvania. Their original intent was to form a social club, however, that changed when an infant was left in the Sheridan Theater with a note saying, “Please take care of my baby ... I can no longer take care of her.”
The men decided to be godfathers to the baby named Catherine and support her. When Catherine’s story became public, the group received more donations than they needed to support one child and so other orphaned or disadvantaged children became their beneficiaries.
In 1937, Variety - the Children’s Charities of Iowa was formed and since it began running a telethon in 1975, Variety Iowa has raised more than $113 million.
In 2016, Variety used 73% of the more than $4 million it raised to support its programs, with 3% going to administration.