Thousands of little plastic cards have a big story to tell.
In 2011, BankPlus launched the Friends of Children’s Hospital CheckCard program. Customers who use this special debit card pay $12 each year for its use, with all proceeds being donated to Friends of Children’s Hospital.
BankPlus also matches each $12 donation up to $60,000 per year, further extending their support. In addition, BankPlus donates 3 cents per transaction to the nonprofit that raises funds for Children’s of Mississippi.
“Our goal was to have 4,000 Friends of Children’s Hospital Visa check cards in use,” said Bill Ray, BankPlus president and CEO. “Today there are more than 14,000 Friends of Children’s Hospital check cards, far exceeding our goal.”
Those pennies per transaction plus donations to Friends of Children’s Hospital from Visa and Visa DPS totaling $450,000 added up to $4,006,914 over the past 12 years. In the past year, more than $420,000 was raised for Friends of Children’s Hospital through the cards.
The seven-figure sum was celebrated Thursday during an announcement at the BankPlus Community Room of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi.
“All of us at BankPlus are proud to be here today,” Ray said, “and we look forward to continued growth and expansion of the Friends of Children’s Hospital check card program.”
Ray and his wife, Sara, who served on the Friends of Children’s Hospital board for 17 years, seven of those as board chair, have been supporters of Children’s of Mississippi since the nonprofit’s start.
“BankPlus is no stranger to Children’s of Mississippi,” said Dr. Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi. “Through its support of Friends of Children’s Hospital and the construction of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower, BankPlus has funded the advancements in children’s health care we have today. BankPlus employees have been active volunteers in supporting Children’s of Mississippi and helping brighten the day for our patients at events such as BankPlus Presents Light-A-Light and BankPlus Presents Winter Wonderland.”
BankPlus Presents Light-A-Light is Friends of Children’s Hospital’s oldest fundraiser. The evening treats patients and their families to a holiday celebration featuring the lighting of a Christmas tree in front of the Sanderson Tower, a performance of scenes from “The Nutcracker” performed by Ballet Mississippi dancers and visits with Santa Claus.
The Winter Wonderland event brings a Christmas tree lot to the Sanderson Tower so children’s hospital inpatients can choose a small artificial tree and ornaments to take back to their rooms, making sure they don’t miss the magic of a holiday tree because of a hospital stay.
“I can’t tell you how much that means to our patients and families,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair and professor of pediatrics. “We had one family in the intensive care unit who kept their child’s tree up for months, changing it from a Christmas tree to an Easter tree.”
The bank’s generosity has helped make possible medical advances, Taylor said. “The Sanderson Tower wouldn’t be here without the support of BankPlus.”
Opened in 2020, the seven-story Sanderson Tower includes private neonatal and pediatric intensive care rooms, a dozen state-of-the-art operating rooms, an imaging center designed for children and two floors of outpatient specialty clinics.
“Now we can give children the specialty care they deserve,” she said. “Your support makes that possible.”
The BankPlus Community Room is the site for events for Children’s of Mississippi patients as well as programs such as Pediatric Research Day, which showcases research by our medical students and faculty, and health care conferences.
“It’s now the hub of the hospital,” Taylor told attendees.
Rob Armour, executive vice president and chief marketing and product development officer of BankPlus, and a former president of Friends of Children’s Hospital, said the bank’s support is “an important story of a check card program and what makes this children’s hospital one of the most special places on earth. … We’re all so proud and feel like this place is our second home.”
By Annie Oeth/UMMC Public Affairs