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Canadian Medicine Aid Program
From all indications, helping those less fortunate than himself has become a way of life for John Rumball, winner of the 1996 Commitment to Care Award for Charitable Work. Among many other causes, the Toronto pharmacist has donated countless hours to the Canadian Medicine Aid Program (CanMap), an organization he helped found 10 years ago and currently serves as executive director. CanMap sends about 500 shipments of medicine a year to facilities in developing countries that are served by Canadian health professionals. In 1995, that aid reached more than 70 countries through some 145 humanitarian organizations around the world.
According to his nominator, pharmacist/researcher Beth Sproule of Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto, Rumball’s contributions to CanMap have been noteworthy. As general administrator of the organization, he is responsible for raising funds, encouraging donations of medicines and identifying appropriate destinations for those drugs. One of the ongoing challenges he faces, says Sproule, is determining at any given time which areas need which medications from CanMap’s supplies. To help him do this, Rumball makes periodic visits–at his own expense–to assess the recipient facilities and judge whether the correct choices were made.
To ensure that the donated medications are used safely and effectively once they are delivered, Rumball has made a concerted effort to promote pharmacist involvement in the project–an initiative that has resulted in the establishment of a database of more than 50 interested pharmacists across Canada. Of those who ultimately become part of the CanMap team, most will undertake short-term assignments (from about two weeks to three months duration), providing pharmacy services in temporary medical clinics. As it says in the organization’s newsletter, “In these projects the pharmacists volunteer their time, finance their own transportation and consider it a working holiday!”
Though it is certainly a consuming passion, CanMap is by no means John Rumball’s only foray into charitable endeavours. His efforts have borne fruit closer to home as well. As director of the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation, he has been instrumental in raising funds to purchase essential patient care equipment; he also organizes and conducts regular educational seminars for pharmacists and physicians. In addition, he served as the first president of the East York Arthritis Society and recently completed two years as a branch chair of the Friends of the Environment Committee–an organization devoted to funding community environmental projects.
The local pharmacy community has also benefited from Rumball’s energies over the years. He has held executive positions on the pharmacists’ associations of both Metropolitan Toronto and Ontario, and for many years coordinated a public speaking program for pharmacy students at the U of T.
After reviewing Rumball’s record of achievements, one member of the judges’ panel spoke for many when he observed: “John has extended his charity work well beyond the shores of Canada to make a difference to thousands of poor people worldwide. To extend your pharmacy expertise in such a manner is truly commendable.”
Shoppers Drug Mart
For three consecutive years, the management and staff of Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies have put their best foot forward in support of Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Canada (JDFC) with a lively autumn event known as Shoppers Walk for the Cure. This 10 km fundraising walk has grown to include more than 25,000 participants in 11 cities across the country, and is expected to raise $1 million for diabetes research this year.
As title sponsor, Shoppers Drug Mart plays a highly visible role in the event, encouraging staff, suppliers and other businesses in the Walk cities to participate along with their friends, family and co-workers. To assist them, the company uses an ambitious recruitment package that includes an entertaining video–with an introduction featuring cast members from the TV show ‘Cheers,’ as well as print materials and an employee incentive program aimed at boosting pledge collections. (In 1995, employee Walk pledges raised $150,000 for JDFC.) The company’s many suppliers are also approached for donations of cash and/or gifts-in-kind, such as refreshments for the thousands of hungry walkers.
Augmenting corporate support for the Walk–and increasing aware-ness among consumers at the local level–are the more than 750 Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada that have taken part in the company’s Sneaker Sale promotion. Using the slogan ‘Buy A Sneaker For A Loonie & Walk All Over Us,’ this in-store program urges customers to make a $1 donation, which buys them a brightly-coloured paper sneaker on which to sign their names in support of diabetes research. Each store then decorates its walls and windows with the eye-catching cutouts. Last year’s sneaker campaign contributed $160,000 to the cause; this year’s goal is $500,000.
Of its high-profile role in supporting diabetes research, a company statement says: “Partnerships that develop between corporations and charitable organizations are symbiotic in nature. By learning from one another, an ongoing growth and development occurs that otherwise may not have been possible.”
“We like to think of our partnership with JDFC as a win-win situation,” adds David Bloom, chairman and CEO.
For JDFC, the relationship with Shoppers Drug Mart–which actually goes back more than 10 years–grows progressively more rewarding. “Through their support, we have implemented several initiatives designed to raise funds for diabetes research while educating the public about the prevalence of the disease,” says Kate MacDonald, senior director of campaign operations for JDFC, who nominated the company for this year’s Charitable Work award. “Over the past three years, the support of Shoppers Drug Mart and their employees has made the Shoppers Walk for the Cure JDFC’s fastest-growing fundraising campaign.”
In awarding an Honourable Mention to this initiative, the judges recognized the company-wide commitment required to organize, energize and publicize such an ambitious project. “This effort benefits a very worthy cause,” noted one. “The Shoppers Walk for the Cure hits the mark!”