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3Cs distributes largest amount ever to local charities

by Devin Heilman
| August 20, 2016 9:00 PM

COEUR d’ALENE — The "Cancer" in "Cancer and Community Charities" represents a benevolent heart that wanted to make life better for those suffering from the devastating illness.

For three decades, the 3Cs has included the cancer services at Kootenai Health whenever it's time to give away the hard-earned funds 3Cs members have raised throughout the year.

"This is the 30th consecutive year that 3Cs has donated to Kootenai Health and the (Kootenai Health) Foundation," said Kootenai Health Foundation manager Britt Towery. "It fills the gap for uninsured or underinsured patients and it helps with gas vouchers, prescription medication, nutritional supplements, sometimes utilities. It helps fill that gap for some patients because if they’re going to choose between, ‘I need to pay my heating bill for my family or I need to pay for my prescription,’ they’re going to choose their family. And the need continues to grow.

"It’s amazing. When you put yourself in the shoes of a patient, you want the best care possible, you want to be supportive in every way," Towery continued. "3Cs makes this possible."

It might be hard for some to imagine spending $100,000 in one day, but the 3Cs do it just about every year.

And this year was the biggest yet. During the annual Appreciation Lunch in The Coeur d'Alene Resort on Thursday, 3Cs officials happily distributed $102,165 to 29 different causes and nonprofits in Kootenai County.

"Everyone loves the 3Cs, they’re fantastic,” said Diana Clemons, founding board member and program director of Harmony Ranch, a nonprofit that uses horsemanship, music and the arts to enhance the lives of the disabled, at-risk and elderly.

She said she spoke for a 3Cs meeting about a month ago "and I stood up there and I cried and I said, ‘You guys have no idea how much I love you.’"

"The first organization I ever spoke to when we got our nonprofit was the 3Cs. We didn’t even have a wheelchair ramp yet," Clemons said. “One of the ladies came forward after and she said, ‘My husband will build your wheelchair ramp.’ Her husband came out every day, he got all the lumber donated and we still use the same wheelchair ramp.”

Clemons said she now has several friendships among the 3Cs and enjoys performing music at their events.

“They have been so supportive, and they’re people that I love,” she said. “I see them in the community and I hug them. They have just been absolutely the bomb and I just love them."

The 3Cs was officially formed in 1975 out of the Cancer Crusaders Bowling League the late Ellen Walden began in 1962. It consists of several activity groups that raise funds year 'round, and after in-depth interviews and meetings, the 3Cs Appropriations Committee decides where to allocate the money.

Since its inception, the 3Cs has donated more than $2.2 million.

This year, recipients included the Alzheimer's Association, Birthright, CASA, Children's Village, the Guardians Foundation, Hospice of North Idaho, the Inland Northwest SIDS Foundation, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of CDA, local food banks, Safe Passage and more.

“To me it just is astounding,” said outgoing 3Cs President Judy Gardner. "We had a lot of people and everyone’s support, and I know that the recipients are very appreciative of the money that they get.

“This is the cherry on top of the sundae. We have worked hard all year to raise this money to give to the nonprofits that work just as hard as we do in our community."