Local business using Loops of Love to raise money, awareness for breast cancer
By Joshua Gordon
BERKLEY — Through family and friends, April McCrumb knows three people who have had to deal with breast cancer in one way or another.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the outreach spans fundraisers all over the country.
But McCrumb is trying to reach out to the local men and women dealing with breast cancer by offering her own recognition program, Loops of Love, at her business, Catching Fireflies, in Berkley, Rochester and Ann Arbor.
“My cousin dealt with breast cancer, my sister-in-law’s dad and my friend’s mom, so with me alone there are three people in my life that have dealt with this,” McCrumb said. “Our company is supported by people who are mostly women, and there are plenty of other problems out there, too, but this made sense for us. We have been around for 14 years, and we thought it was time to do something that celebrated this month.”
Through Loops of Love, members of the community can nominate someone they know who has battled breast cancer and create a pink loop of paper that will be intertwined with other loops and displayed in all of McCrumb’s stores.
For each loop created, Catching Fireflies will donate $1 to The Pink Fund, a metro Detroit organization that helps people affected by breast cancer handle their bills.
“It is surprisingly crazy how many people who know somebody affected by breast cancer, as we have been doing this for about two weeks and we have over 300 loops between the stores,” McCrumb said. “We are able to use our stores, email contacts and social media sites to reach out so people can recognize someone they know that has gone through this horrible phase. People who may not know about it come into our stores and see the loops behind the counter, and we can explain it to them.”
And it is the chance to talk about breast cancer that made this program attractive when McCrumb and her workers were trying to come up with ideas on how to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“Like anything, when the spotlight is on an issue or problem, it does bring more money in for the cause,” she said. “The ALS (Association), they did the ice bucket challenge and that raised a ton of money. The fact that there is one month to shine the spotlight on breast cancer and that helps to boost the money raised, we want to be part of that.”
Molly MacDonald founded The Pink Fund in 2006 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. As she stood in line at the local food bank, she said she couldn’t believe there wasn’t something out there to help families like hers.
“I could not believe there was no support to help working women like myself,” MacDonald said. “Me working was critical to my family’s survival, so I bought a book on how to start a nonprofit organization, and we have helped close to 700 people and had close to $1 million in funding.”
Now cancer-free, MacDonald and The Pink Fund look to pay nonmedical bills for men and women with breast cancer who are unable to work or who lost income because of treatments. The organization gets between 80-90 new applicants every month, and it funds every qualifying applicant for up to 90 days. The Pink Fund usually spends up to $3,000 during that time.
“I think a lot of people are very much aware of breast cancer, but they are not aware of the financial side effects of treatment,” MacDonald said. “With treatment often comes the physical and mental inability to work, but if you can’t work, you can’t collect a paycheck. Some people won’t complete treatment and return to work because they can’t afford to lose everything. We are trying to help people understand that one side effect is the financial toxicity of care.”
Throughout the month, McCrumb has been picking random, nominated people to send a care package that includes a gift card and a bracelet. Thus far, she has sent about 40 packages.
Even when the month is over, McCrumb hopes her small effort can help someone in need.
“I think it is sad that people are going through this, but it is beautiful to take this time to recognize them,” she said.
To nominate someone for Loops of Love, visit Catching Fireflies at 3117 W. 12 Mile Road in Berkley or at 203 E. University Drive in Rochester. You can also firstname.lastname@example.org.