Saving ta-tas at Safeway

Monica Riggs never thought much about when she donated money for breast cancer research at Safeway each October.

Customers donate money to breast cancer research and treatment.

Monica Riggs never thought much about when she donated money for breast cancer research at Safeway each October.

“We’ve always made our donations, but it’s different when it hits your family,” she said. “It’s different. It hits you harder.”

Riggs, 39, of Bremerton was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and her aunt was diagnosed a month ago.

“We never had any cancer in our family. I was the first,” she said.

Riggs attended Breast Cancer Survivor Day at the Safeway store on Callow Avenue in Bremerton Oct. 3 and thought the event was a hit.

“I thought it was awesome of them to do that,” she said. “You don’t see the big stores doing that kind of stuff.”

Safeway stores in Washington, Montana, Idaho and Alaska hosted Breast Cancer Survivor Day events and the grocery stores are raising money all month long for breast cancer research and treatment.

“This is probably the biggest fundraiser we do. It’s huge,” said Silverdale Safeway Assistant Manager Chris Finnegan. “We’ve got an unbelievable community who has big hearts.”

The Kitsap Safeways are hosting a variety of fundraisers this month to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. Finnegan said Silverdale Safeway employees will sell chocolates and kettle corn, host bake sales and a used book drive throughout October.

Safeway customers also can donate money at the cash register during checkout.

Safeway Inc. is one of the country’s largest corporate supporters of cancer research and treatment, having raised nearly $60 million, including more than $18 million in 2008 alone, for medical research to improve detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Last year, Western Washington Safeway stores raised $1.3 million in October for breast cancer research and treatment. The Silverdale store alone raised $16,625.

“Our store has traditionally been one of the better fundraisers,” Finnegan said.

Safeway bought an $800,000 state-of-the-art digital mammography mobile unit a few years ago for Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

The van was paid for by Washington Safeway customers and employees during the company’s breast cancer fundraising campaigns each October.

“It just goes to show we live in an appreciative community,” Finnegan said.

Riggs finished chemotherapy a month ago and will start radiation treatment Monday. She said people should take advantage of the mobile mammography van because breast cancer is affecting more and more people every year.

“One in eight – that’s a lot,” Riggs said. “That’s too many.”

The “mammovan” will be at the Silverdale Safeway store 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. This is the first time the mobile unit has visited Silverdale and it will stop at a different Puget Sound store every day this month.

Screening will not be free and anyone interested in having a mammogram is encouraged to call (206) 288-7800 to schedule an appointment.

“They can call that number to schedule an appointment, but I do believe they’ll be taking walk-ins as well,” Finnegan said.