An outpouring of donations lifted Akron General over Summa in a battle between the health systems to collect the most bras for charity.
The hospitals collected more than 1,700 bras through last week for Breast Oasis, a nonprofit run by Akron Plastic Surgeons.
Donated bras are inspected and sorted by staff, cleaned for free by White Swan Quality Cleaners in Stow and then given to those in need at area shelters and community events.
Volunteers from Breast Oasis provide the recipients free sizing assistance and several bras of their choice, as well as information about breast health and the availability of free mammograms in the region.
Akron General won the friendly competition, bringing in 1,031 for the cause, according to Marcia Case, practice manager of Akron Plastic Surgeons and Breast Oasis administrator.
Summa had collected 767 bras when the contest officially ended, but both organizations are continuing to get donations, Case said.
“Everybody’s a winner in this,” she said.
Akron Plastic Surgeons launched the program after hearing patients who had undergone breast reduction or augmentation procedures say they had perfectly good bras that no longer fit.
Since the program started several years ago, Breast Oasis has distributed more than 100,000 bras.
The organization is working with area groups to set up times to distribute the donated bras, Case said.
“Most of them are in really good shape,” she said.
Derwood Watkins, 85, of Cuyahoga Falls, was among those who donated to the cause.
During his years as a lingerie buyer for the former O’Neil’s and Gimbels department stores, the retiree said, he saw many sad situations in which women couldn’t afford new bras. So when he read an article about the bra collection drive, “I was certainly willing and wanted to be part of it.”
He went to the J.C. Penney store at Chapel Hill Mall with the intent of buying six bras to donate. After telling store management about the charity and negotiating a discount, he ended up purchasing a dozen bras for $107.
“It’s well worth it,” he said. “I hope the whole effort is successful.”
Watkins remained neutral in the bra battle by giving his donation directly to Breast Oasis.
Even though the contest is over, Breast Oasis is always seeking new or gently used bras in all styles, colors and sizes.
Donations can be dropped off from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays or mailed to Akron Plastic Surgeons, 1 Park West Blvd., Suite 350, Akron, OH 44320.
For information, visit www.breastoasis.org.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.