It’s a must-have shopping tool
For 15 years, Care Card has been a “win-win” for Tulsa.
For decades, Karl Malden, Jerry Seinfeld and a host of other celebrities urged consumers not to leave home without their American Express cards. But for Jennifer Maricle and thousands of other Tulsans, the must-have item in their wallets is the Care Card from Family & Children’s Services.
Family & Children’s Services presents its 15th annual Care Card shopping event Oct. 25-Nov. 3. Individuals who purchase a Care Card for $50 receive discounts of up to 20 percent at nearly 230 retail locations during the 10-day shopping period.
“Some people think of Care Card simply as a universal savings card. It’s that and so much more,” says Susan McCalman, longtime development director at Family & Children’s Services. Proceeds from card sales benefit Family & Children’s Services, and “when you buy a Care Card, you join in our mission of caring,” McCalman explains. “You help heal abused children, strengthen at-risk families and lead people battling mental illness and addiction toward recovery.”
Maricle, a mother of two, describes Care Card as a “win-win situation” that marries her desire for good deals and her strong commitment to the charity. By using her Care Card to buy the bulk of her family’s holiday and birthday gifts, Maricle has saved hundreds of dollars over the years. Her most memorable Care Card-related purchase was a piece of artwork — “a ‘happy item’ from T.A. Lorton” — that she’d had her eye on for quite a while.
“I felt guilty about spending the money, but Care Card came around and my husband convinced me to buy it,” she says. “We got a beautiful piece of artwork, a great discount and the satisfaction of knowing we’d contributed to an incredibly worthy cause.”
Care Card began in 1998. Since then, the event has raised nearly $1 million for Family & Children’s Services — and it all began with one memorable phone call.
“My brother and his family were living in Dallas in the 1990s,” McCalman says. “One day, my sister-in-law called me up to tell me about this shopping-related fundraiser called the ‘Partners Card.’ She said it was great, and that we just had to do it here.”
After being tipped off by her sister-in-law, McCalman contacted The Family Place, the nonprofit that launched Partners Card in 1993. The Family Place graciously provided McCalman with its Partners Card “blueprint.” With that, Care Card was born.
“We worked very hard to educate and enlist retailers and managed to get about 100 stores on board the first year,” McCalman says. “Today, Care Card is accepted at more than twice as many locations. It’s through the merchants’ generosity and partnership that Care Card has grown into an important fundraiser for our agency and Tulsa’s most anticipated shopping event.”
In addition to adding retail partners, Family & Children’s Services has made a concerted effort to expand Care Card’s geographical reach. Few retailers outside of midtown Tulsa accepted Care Card in the 1990s. This year, the list of participating merchants includes boutiques, jewelers, restaurants and other retailers in downtown and south Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Bixby, Jenks, Claremore and Owasso, in addition to the core, midtown business districts.
Twenty-two of the businesses accepting Care Card this year participated during the inaugural year, including Ribbons, a Brookside boutique.
“Participating in Care Card is the right thing to do,” says Lisa Dejarnette, who owns Ribbons with her mother, Cherie Poyas. But neither Dejarnette nor Poyas had any idea that Care Card “would turn into such a powerful thing in and for our community” or for their business.
“It’s one of our top retail weeks — and that’s even with giving 20 percent off,” Dejarnette explains. “We increase our inventory and have all of our best merchandise in the store by Care Card (time) because it’s such a huge time of year for us.”
Care Card compels many Ribbons customers to get a head start on their holiday shopping.
“We see shoppers with lists, tons of lists. They love Care Card because it gets them organized for the holidays and saves them 20 percent,” Dejarnette says.
Jennifer Maricle certainly falls into the camp Dejarnette describes.
“I plan on it every single year and work ahead,” Maricle says. “It’s such a neat concept, and I love that it’s local. I just don’t think there’s a better cause for shopping in Tulsa.”
Care Card 2013
Oct. 25-Nov. 3 — Care Cards can be purchased for $50 at most participating retailers, online at www.fcsok.org/carecard or at Family & Children’s Services Central Office, 650 S. Peoria Ave.