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Donations to American Cancer Society spread over various progra

by Jennifer Biller

STAFF WRITER

Do you know where your money goes when you make a local donation to the American Cancer Society?

The money is spent for prevention, patient services, detection and treatment, research programs and fund-raising, according to Heather O'Hagan, office coordinator at the North Central West Virginia Office, which services Harrison County.

A very small part of donations is spent for office management, she said. Exactly how small?

If you donated $10, only 60 cents goes toward management, salaries and operating costs, according to O'Hagan.

Of that 10 dollars, two dollars would go toward prevention to fund public education, school health programs and nutrition programs, she added.

These programs focus primarily on tobacco control, the relationship between diet and physical activity and cancer, promoting comprehensive school health education, and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

"Patient services would receive $1.70 to assist patients and families in easing the burden of cancer," she said.

Some programs included in patient services are the Reach to Recovery, where breast cancer survivors visit recently diagnosed patients and offer support, and the Road to Recovery, where volunteers drive cancer patients to radiation and chemotherapy appointments, O'Hagan said.

"We also give out free wigs to make patients look and feel better about themselves, and we have trained cosmetologists who work with them too," she added.

Patient services also send children with cancer to summer camp, she said.

The biggest portion of a $10 donation, $2.30 specifically, is designated for fund-raising programs to help raise more money for the society. Fund-raising materials such as pamphlets and recruiting programs for events like the Relay for Life are examples of how the money is spent, according to O'Hagan.

Research programs receive the next largest portion of the donation, with $1.90 being spent to find a cure or better treatments, she said. To date, the society has invested more than $2.2 billion in cancer research and has provided grant support to 30 Nobel Prize winners early in their careers, according to the society.

The remaining $1.50 is designated for detection and treatment programs to aid in finding cancer, before it is clinically apparent, and providing information and education about treatments and symptom management, O'Hagan noted.

"All American Cancer Society income results from donations made by the public, investment income and government grants," according to the society's 1999 Fact Sheet.

In 1999, the public donated approximately $620 million.

When making a donation to the society, the individual can specify how they would like it to be spent, O'Hagan said. This procedure is known as restricting the funds.

"Sometimes when someone gives a large sum they say they want it go for a specific thing," she said. "A lot of times when they have a family member with a certain type of cancer, they want it eradicated and they specify the money to go toward finding a cure for that type."

Of unrestricted contributions, 60 percent stays in the local division where the funds are raised. Each division determines how funds will be allocated. Funds that go to the national society are earmarked for nationwide research, medical grants and fellowship, national programs, administration and fund-raising.

Donations to the society ultimately help patients, O'Hagan said.

"It is the simple things like the look on their face when they get a free wig," she said. "Those are the things that warm your heart."

Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or jbiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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