Marlo Thomas is taking on a family mission – to help St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Her father, Danny Thomas, founded the center and Thomas now serves as the National Outreach Director. She has been in charge of various telethons and fundraisers, and is now hosting their “Thanks and Giving” campaign.

“It’s a time of year where we’re all very happy, having Thanksgiving dinner, having Christmas dinner, buying lots of presents, Hanukkah, all the wonderful things that happen this time of year. But there are children and parents who are not running around shopping and having big dinners – what they’re doing is just trying to save their child’s life,” Thomas told uInterview in an exlusive video interview. “So we decided to point that up and to say to everybody in America, give thanks for the healthy kids in your life and give to those who are not, and that’s really what the thanks and giving campaign is about.”

St. Jude’s is a nonprofit charity, and is often referred to as “America’s Hospital” because it really takes the whole country to donate and run the hospital. “It costs $2.6 million a day to run St. Jude, and nobody pays, so for us to be able to do that, we have to raise 75% of our money from the public,” Thomas said. “The children come from all over America and the people in America really do help us fund it, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do, and we wouldn’t be able to keep my father’s founding promise – that no child would ever be turned away if they couldn’t pay. So sometimes if people have insurance, we’re happy to take it, but it doesn’t last three years, so it’s pretty much on us to do it.”

“And we aways say if not St. Jude, who? And that’s what we do. And children come to us with diseases that other people don’t know what to do with, so we get most of the very tough cases in this country because we’re a research center, we’re not just a hospital,” she explained. “So when a child comes to us, we have a doctor and a scientist on each case, and if we don’t know how to cure that disease or if there is no protocol for it now, we’ll make one up. We’ll customize one to go with that child’s genome, we map the genome of every child who comes to St. Jude. This is very exciting, very scientific work, these aren’t miracles. This is based in science, and that’s how we’re able to save so many children’s lives.”

St. Jude’s partners with many stores, including Kay Jewelers, Best Buy, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Home Goods, Ann Taylor, K-Mart, and Brooks Brothers. When shopping at these stores, or on some of their websites, you will be prompted to donate a small amount to the hospital. “You can also go online to stjude.org, you can also go to text-to-give (785833). Text Give to that number and make a donation to St. Jude,” Thomas said. “But however way you do it, whether it’s in a store or online, there is no guarantee, there is no insurance to keep your family safe from disease. Just one day anybody can pick up the phone and there’s a diagnosis that just scares the heck out of you, and it’s good to know that there’s a place to go.”

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