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Clinic, Kiwanis promote 'Bill for a Pill'

Special Photo
David Knowles (second from the right), lieutenant governor of Kiwanis Clubs of Clayton County, and Good Shepherd Clinic staff, hold up pill bottles filled with monetary donations. The Jonesboro Kiwanis Club recently started the "Bill for a Pill" program as a year-round fund-raiser for the clinic.

Special Photo David Knowles (second from the right), lieutenant governor of Kiwanis Clubs of Clayton County, and Good Shepherd Clinic staff, hold up pill bottles filled with monetary donations. The Jonesboro Kiwanis Club recently started the "Bill for a Pill" program as a year-round fund-raiser for the clinic.

Only a few weeks ago, a member of the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club came up with a simple, yet creative way of raising money for the Good Shepherd Clinic, the county's only free primary-care clinic.

Rather than asking people to send checks in envelopes, the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club recently asked its members to donate to the clinic by stuffing cash into little, orange pill bottles from the pharmacy.

The novel idea accomplished two things: It provided the clinic with much-needed pill bottles to dispense medications, as well as a fun and interesting way for the clinic to solicit donations throughout the year. The fledgling concept has been dubbed as the "Bill for a Pill" program by clinic staff.

According to David Knowles, a member of the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club and lieutenant governor of Kiwanis Clubs of Clayton County, the idea was born three weeks ago, when L.C. Thomas, chairman of the clinic's board of directors, encouraged members of the club to donate to the clinic during one of the club's regular meetings.

"One of the things he [Thomas] said we could do to help is collect empty medicine bottles," Knowles said. "We thought that was great.

"One of our members encouraged people not only to collect bottles, but put money in [them]," he said. "I like the simplicity of it. A lot of people in my club, they take medication. It's an easy way to help the clinic."

Thomas said all bottles donated must be stripped of labels, washed, and cleaned of any medication residue prior to donation. The bottles will be sterilized by the clinic prior to use, he said.

"A lot of people don't think their donations of $1, $2, or $5 are important," said Thomas, "but if you get enough small ones [donations], you get big ones, and that means more people are thinking about your ministry, and what you are trying to do in the community."

Earlier this month, according to Knowles, the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club delivered nearly 100 used medicine bottles, to the clinic — each filled with modest donations. He said that since then, the Morrow Civic Woman's Club has also begun to take up "Bill for a Pill" donations, and that he is in the process of visiting other local Kiwanis clubs to gain their support.

"We want to get the other Kiwanis clubs in Clayton County to get involved as well," Knowles said. "I am going to talk to the president of the Forest Park club, the Southlake club, and the Riverdale club. We are working on starting a Lovejoy club, so when we get that club going, we are going to talk to them as well."

Thomas said that as the Good Shepherd Clinic is presently the only free primary-care facility for the uninsured in Clayton County, the clinic is in constant need of funding. He said it is able to raise funds through annual programs, such as its Tomato Sandwich Party and Halloween 5K Fun Run and Walk, but that the "Bill for a Pill" program is a way of promoting donations to the clinic year round.

"People can relate to things that are humorous, and it's kind of humorous to put a donation into a pill bottle," Thomas said. "I think people who are about to throw away their old medication bottles will say, ‘I don't have to throw that away ... I can put a bill in it, put the top on, and take it to the clinic.'"

Thomas said the clinic will continue to accept money-filled pill bottles from citizens, churches, businesses, and other groups.

For more information about the "Bill for a Pill" program, call (770) 968-1310, or e-mail godshep@bellsouth.net. The clinic is located at 6392 Murphy Drive, in Morrow.