A wave of pink is flooding stores everywhere, as retailers participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For the savvy shopper, October brings an opportunity to donate to a good cause while snagging unique, pink-hued items.
In Western Pennsylvania, retailers offering rosy items include:
Purchase a pink ribbon bagel at Panera Bread this month and a portion of the proceeds will benefit breast cancer research. Pink ribbon bagels are available at Panera Bread locations for a limited time.
A portion of proceeds from the store's "pink products" will go to the American Cancer Society. Customers can also donate at the cash register. H&M is located at the Mall at Robinson.
Visit your local Target store for a selection of limited-edition breast cancer awareness products by Conair. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from each sale support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Jared jewelers carry Pandora pink ribbon beads, pendants and a necklace. Five percent of proceeds from sales of these items go toward Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. This program runs until January 2013.
Mathew Jewelers is holding "Days of Decadent Indulgence" at their Cranberry location, with 10 percent of sales during the three-day event donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Pittsburgh affiliate. Click here for more information.
But before you plunk down your green for some pink, the nonprofits behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month want you to check the label.
Jenna Glazer, director of development for Young Survival Coalition, a global organization dedicated to helping young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer, said buyers should be on the lookout for a label or tag that tells where money from the purchase goes.
"If you walk into Bed Bath & Beyond and see something with a pink ribbon and no information about where the money is going, chances are it doesn't benefit the cause," she said.
Glazer said the best way for consumers to ensure that pink products are legit is to visit the nonprofit's website for a list of its partners. YSC, which is based in New York City, lists Oakley, Nutra Nail, Liv/giant bikes, Ford and Urban Outfitters among its partners.
The amount of money donated to the nonprofit is also key, Glazer said. With YSC's partnership with Oakley, for instance, $20 from each pair of sunglasses goes right to the nonprofit, which offers resources, connections and outreach to young women with breast cancer.
For a group like YSC, which is on the smaller end of the spectrum of breast cancer awareness groups such as Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the check it receives is just part of the benefit.
Each time YSC partners with a company, Glazer said, "It raises the profile of nonprofit and gets the word out to the people who need us."
Michelle Mathew, owner of Mathew Jewelers, said she is excited to help raise awareness for breast cancer. She said she contacted the Susan G. Komen foundation to ask how her store could help the cause.
"We wanted to raise awareness in any way possible, so we decided on the three-day sale," she said.
Mathew Jewelers is also collecting donations for the Susan G. Komen foundation. For every $5 donation, the person's name is entered in a drawing to win a 14 karat gold bracelet valued at $1500.
Here are a few pink products available online that breast cancer nonprofits are putting their names behind:
- The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has partnered with Barnes & Noble, which is offering a pink leather Nook cover with a stitched ribbon for about $35, with $5 going to the foundation.
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure sells its own official merchandise on its website. It has pink leather business card holders for $15 each, as well as candles, coasters, neckties and car accessories.
- Hard Rock will celebrate its 13th season of Pinktober with a variety of merchandise, including a pink honeycomb robe for $80. The Caron Keating Foundation receives 75 percent of the proceeds.
Some retailers don't enter contracts with nonprofits but still donate a portion of their proceeds. Team Cheer, a website that offers gear for cheerleaders, is donating 5 percent of its pink profits to BCRF.
From socks to bows to briefs, the company's Cheer for a Cure collection includes products from $5 to about $25. You won't see it advertised on the BCRF website, but according to foundation staff, Team Cheer has made donations for the past two years.
If you think a pink product is suspicious, or if you are wondering about the relationship between the company and the cause, give the nonprofit a call. Representatives are usually happy to verify whether a company is really giving.
"I've actually gotten Google alerts and seen people say they are partnering with us and they aren't," Glazer said, adding that she follows up on those alerts and asks for a check from the retailer that made the claim. Sometimes, she said, retailers were unaware that they needed a contract with YSC and will send along the check happily.
But in some cases, she said, "I never hear back from them."
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