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Applications sought for license tag grant

by Mary Helen Yarborough
Public Relations
Children who must endure long stays and frequent visits to the hospital while their parents struggle to find therapeutic resources and support are getting a big boost from South Carolina drivers.
Launched in the fall, the special Children’s Hospital license tag has raised more than $3,000, creating $10,000 that will be distributed through Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC) grants. VAC currently is seeking grant applications for qualified projects that target patient care at the Children’s Hospital.
The license plate, which is available from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), costs $50, from which $42 goes directly to the Children’s Hospital to support patients, families and staff. Supporters can continue to support the Children’s Hospital when renewing the plate each year with their vehicle registration. For an application, go to and complete form MV-95.
Without a budget to market the tag, public relations, word-of-mouth and the Internet has helped create a surprising success.
“Our volunteer board created this and just took the bull by the horns. It’s been all volunteer developed and run,” said Christine Messick, Children’s Hospital volunteer coordinator. “Our board members are so passionate about this hospital and they come with the knowledge about what the patients and staff need. So they decided to create a funding vehicle to improve care for the patients and families.”
The primary objective of the VAC grants is to support special projects dedicated to the tasks of improving patient care, and improving the hospital experience for patients and their families.
VAC chairman John Brisini originated the idea, Messick said. The board gained the approval from the state for the tag; then one of the students suggested the new program get a page on Facebook. “One of the volunteers, Ainsley Glenn, created a Web page for Facebook, ... which has been another way we could share information about the Children’s Hospital, the patients and the license tag fundraiser.”
The Facebook page has taken off. “Someone picked up on it from the American Hospital Association, and people are blogging about it in England,” Messick said.
The Facebook page features 5-year-old Joey Benton, a Children’s Hospital cystic fibrosis patient and poster child for the license tag effort.
Joey and the tag promotion are featured on a billboard facing the eastbound lanes of I-26 entering Charleston. The billboard, by which 54,000 automobiles pass per day, was donated by Adams Outdoors; and will remain up for at least four months, Messick said.
RFPs sought
Requests for proposals are being sought from grant applicants, which will be accepted from any department within the Children’s Hospital. The 2009 grant cycle will begin with the availability of applications in January, and the deadline for submission is Feb. 2.
For information, contact  the VAC Finance Committee, 792-3120; or e-mail, (The VAC Finance Committee will not fund any proposals that include components falling within the routine operating budget of the Children’s Hospital, employee salaries, travel, or meeting fees.)
VAC will award grants of up to $10,000 depending on the scope of work and the needs of the project described. (For application instructions, contact VAC.) Project implementation must be initiated within three months of receiving funds.
Project results must be submitted to the VAC Finance Committee within 12 months of grant award. (The application form, a one-page narrative, and itemized budget should be sent to: MUSC Children’s Hospital; VAC Finance Committee; PO Box 250332; Room 101-CH; 171 Ashley Avenue; Charleston, SC 29425.)

Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.