LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - If you've ever walked through the corridor near the gift shop at CHI Saint Luke's Memorial on any given weekday, the sound of popcorn popping or the aroma of cooking kernels have permeated your senses and then plucked down 75 cents for a bag of the fluffy, buttery bites, your purchase has helped fuel a very lucrative care operation.
The Volunteer Auxiliary is using the funds from the popcorn purchase to offer scholarships to students.
"Our scholarship fund was organized in 1987," said seven-year volunteer and 2014 – 2015 Auxiliary President Jean Mizell. "When it first began it was a $500 scholarship. And now it's a $1,000 scholarship for a total of $276,500."
Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Kelley said so far the group has awarded 283 renewable scholarships.
"They are giving back to students going into the medical field," Kelley said while reflected about the popcorn for scholarship program. "From 5 or 6 people coming selling 75-cent bags of popcorn every week. That's a lot of popcorn. That's a lot of scholarships."
The Volunteer Auxiliary has committed a lot of financial support back into the hospital since it began back in 1974. The Gift Shop is another source of revenue.
"I think it's amazing that the money we take in," said Odeane Ellis, an 11-year volunteer. "And then we give that to buy things for each department that sends us an order."