By Ryan Richardson
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
A little pink ribbon hangs from the sign marking the entrance to Carl Junction near Missouri Highway 171.
Near the train tracks, a scarecrow with pink pants stands watch over a field.
On Main Street, approaching the post office, both lanes are painted with the pink ribbon logo that has become synonymous with breast cancer awareness.
For Carl Junction Postmaster and breast cancer survivor Sharon Clark, this is her community supporting a cause to which she has dedicated herself, one stamp at a time.
As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the U.S. Postal Service sells stamps depicting a woman performing a breast exam with the motto “Fund the Fight, Find a Cure.” The stamps cost 55 cents each, with the Postal Service donating 10 cents from each stamp to research. The campaign has raised $71 million since 1998.
Clark has made it her goal over the past four years for her post office to help lead the charge.
“We put our heads together here and we figured, ‘Why not?’” Clark said. “Why can’t we compete with the whole United States in raising money and awareness?”
Since 2008, her efforts have landed the Carl Junction post office near the top nationally in money raised. Last year, the post office raised $25,271, ranking it fourth in the nation. A few years earlier, it was second in the nation.
This year’s goal is to reach $25,000 again, and while Clark’s efforts have netted a little over $11,470 with a week to go in October, she believes there is still time to reach the mark.
“This isn’t just the post office. This is the whole town getting behind what we do here,” Clark said as she adjusted a display that Carl Junction Cares, a nonprofit residents’ group, has put up inside the post office for the campaign.
Her sales associate in the post office, Martha Falley, handled counter traffic while Clark finished her daily routine on Tuesday.
“This town supports this cause in so many different ways,” Falley said. “That outpouring is wonderful and it’s almost overwhelming, but it is something that has made an impact on us all. The whole community knows that it is October, and they help out any way they can.”
Local resident Ed Francis walked into the post office to handle his daily mail.
“It’s October, and I need to pick up my stamps,” he told Falley.
“I try and support this how I can,” Francis said. “I thought while I was here, I’d make sure to pick them up.”
That kind of response throughout the city led to the formation of Carl Junction Cares in 2008. Members of the group help spearhead efforts throughout the area in October. Gary Stubblefield, president of the Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce, has been helping lead the group and has worked closely with Clark in her fundraising efforts.
“This is why I keep October open on my calendar, to help hit this goal,” Stubblefield said. “We keep the town’s efforts going to exceed our expectation for what we can do. It brings everyone here together, and raising money for a cause that is important to us all is something that everyone can get behind.”
As Falley marked the poster board thermometer that tracks the money raised for the month, Clark turned to check the stamp count that is still needed to reach the goal.
“We look forward to the day when we don’t have to do this anymore,” Clark said. “But if we sell only one stamp, and that person is reminded to do their check and it saves their life, then we feel like we have done our job.”
One in eight
ONE IN EIGHT WOMEN in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to breastcancer.org., a nonprofit organization and online support community dedicated to providing information about breast cancer and breast health.