Over the past four years, Jim Smith III figures he’s donated 6,000 donuts to staff and patients at the U-M Cancer Center. After seeing a kid in a wheelchair waiting for radiation treatment, the co-owner of Washtenaw Dairy was inspired to bring along three dozen doughnuts on his next visit, and soon it became a routine. Whenever he goes to the Cancer Center, Smith first stops at the dairy to pick up a few dozen dunkers (all varieties–plain, sprinkled, glazed).
It’s “not really a big deal,” Smith shrugs, pointing out that the dairy yearly donates ice cream and doughnuts to more than 200 local organizations–schools, churches, and civic groups like the Kiwanis. “We just throw all the ‘thank you’ notes in a pile.”
Smith, sixty-two, is at the Cancer Center for treatment of his own advanced prostate cancer. He has continued to work, though fatigue sometimes forces him to cut back his hours. Now undergoing chemo, Smith says hospital employees have more than earned his respect. “They’re nice people, and they see more tragedy [than the dairy staff]. They have to deal with [sick] people and their families. We’re doing happy things, ice cream and doughnuts.”