All over town, people are still saving empty cigarette packs and the striped UPC (Universal Pack Code) symbols found on packaged goods sold in supermarkets.
In office after office, good-hearted people are collecting these items because somebody said they would provide a little boy (or girl) with free time on a lung (or kidney dialysis) machine.
It has been stated repeatedly, here and elsewhere, that there is no truth to these stories, and there is no value to the empty cigarette packages and UPC labels. But instead of diminishing collection efforts, each published statement that the stories are false seems only to stimulate additional activity. Perhaps it's time for a new technique.
The Tobacco Institute, Inc., 1776 K St. NW (4574800), will tell you that nobody is making free time available on lung or kidney machines in exchange for empty cigarette packages. The American Kidney Fund, P.O. Box 975, Washington, D.C. 20044, will tell you "Someone has played a cruel joke on these people and even more so on the poor kidney victim who is waiting to be helped Saving all these things will not enable one helpless victim to receive even one minute of dialysis.
"Frankly, there's only one thing that will pay for dialysis treatment, and that is money ." Executive director E.K. Hatch adds: "Do me a favor. If you know someone who is saving cigarette wrappers or computer price markings, tell them to throw them away."
Inasmuch as all this information has been published before without getting the message across, I'm now going to try something new. I hereby offer a reward of $100 of my own money to the first reader who can provide proof that any American business firm is accepting UPC markings or empty cigarette packages in exchange for free time on a lung or kidney machine.
If somebody in your office asks for your help in such a collection drive, tell him you'll be glad to help if he can furnish the proof needed to claim the $100. If he can't provide that proof, he ought to stop bothering people.