Greater Tulsa Reporter
DECADES OF GIVING: Recipients of the Children’s Medical Charities Association (CMCA) recent $74,500 donation stand outside of CMCA’s new headquarters and thrift shop, The Market at Pearl, 1020 S. Rockford Ave.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
The Children’s Medical Charities Association (CMCA) has continued to prove its resiliency and industriousness through its 65-year history. During its six decades in operation, the organization has been asked to move its location three times, most recently onto Route 66 in the Pearl District.
CMCA’s headquarters and its thrift shop, called The Market at Pearl, is located at 1020 S. Rockford Ave. and opened in January. The store sells both secondhand and new items, including home decor, children’s and adult clothing, books, children’s toys, artwork and small furniture.
“We have had neighbors in the area come into the store and thank us for being here,” says Barbara Thornton, a 49-year member of CMCA. “The people in the neighborhood are glad we are here; they want to improve the neighborhood.”
The store sits in a growing retail corridor along 11th Street with more development to come in the near future, notes Ken Busby, executive director and CEO at Route 66 Alliance.
CMCA’s thrift shop began in 1952 when the organization was founded. The organization was originally named the Children’s Medical Center Auxiliary, with its focus on supporting the needs of children at the Children’s Medical Center, which, at that time, was located on Skelly Drive near Yale Avenue.
The volunteer group served Children’s Medical Center in a number of ways: delivering mail, leading tours, working in the cafeteria and providing general assistance.
Another of the auxiliary’s fundraising efforts started in 1954 when it began co-sponsoring the annual Tulsa Charity Horse Show with the Junior League of Tulsa. In 1963, the auxiliary took over as sole sponsor. The show continued for the next 35 years, with proceeds to the Children’s Medical Center amounting to $1.2 million.
In the 1970s, the auxiliary founded its Arts and Crafts Show, raising close to $1 million for the Children’s Medical Center over the show’s 25-year history. In 1975, the group held its first annual Roy Clark Celebrity Golf Tournament, which lasted for nine years and brought in more than $800,000 in proceeds. In the 1980s, the group began its Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, which continued until 2004.
When the Children’s Medical Center vacated its building on Skelly Drive in 2000, the auxiliary was allowed to dismantle and salvage portions of the building to sell, raising nearly $65,000.
Because the Children’s Medical Center’s services were divided up between Hillcrest Medical Center and Tulsa Regional Medical Center, the auxiliary moved to 1110 S. Utica Ave. and became affiliated with Hillcrest.
In 2004, due to an ownership change of the Children’s Medical Center services, group members decided to reorganize. They changed the organization’s name to the Children’s Medical Charities Association and began to seek nonprofit status. CMCA then began its new mission of funding grants to organizations that directly benefit children in the greater Tulsa area.
Hillcrest, however, continues to provide support to CMCA in its new location and with its new focus, says Thornton.
In the last 10 years, CMCA has given $1 million to local children’s organizations. On Feb. 16, the nonprofit held a check presentation, giving $74,500 to nearly 30 local children’s organizations.
CMCA has close to 50 members, some of whom have been involved in the organization, like Thornton, for 50 years.
Members are responsible for the full operation of the thrift shop, which involves organizing store inventory, rotating inventory monthly, cleaning all items to be sold, and cleaning and maintaining the shop.
“We are all volunteers,” says Thornton. “We feel that the service we provide, giving money to area groups that benefit children, is so important.”
CMCA accepts monetary donations and donations of items to sell in The Market. Currently, their needs include small furniture pieces, decorative items and clothing for all ages. CMCA donates its unsold items to the Salvation Army.
Those interested in joining CMCA or making a donation can call 918-579-1122.