Cheeriodicals among Launchpad finalists

Bill Horton, Regions Financial area president, distributes Cheeriodicals at Children's of Alabama. (Contributed)

Bill Horton, Regions Financial area president, distributes Cheeriodicals at Children’s of Alabama. (Contributed)

By CAROLINE CARMICHAEL/Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY — Named among Alabama Launchpad’s finalists, the Mt Laurel based gift package company has taken off. With only three years under its belt, Cheeriodicals is reaching horizons it never dreamed of.

“We want to be the company that people across the country think of when they want to send a gift to cheer up someone they love in the hospital,” said Gary Parisher.

The company’s participation in Alabama Launchpad may aid in doing just that.

Founded by Gary and Mary Martha Parisher in 2011, Cheeriodicals provides hospital patients across the America with customized gift boxes.

Each “Cheeriodical,” which is a combination of “cheerful” and “periodical,” is comprised of four most-recent magazine issues and edibles or toys, depending on the age of the recipient.

Each box is customized online according to age, gender, interests and the amount of boxes already received by the patient, in order to ensure that unique gifts reflecting the individual’s interests are given each time.

A personalized color photo and gift card accompany each upscale, bright green package.

“It’s a lot like Build-A-Bear,” said Parisher. “You choose the things you want, we build it and ship it.”

The high-quality boxes, said Parisher, are constructed by EBSCO Industries, Inc., and are intended to serve as keepsakes to their recipients.

“It’s a unique alternative to sending flowers,” said Parisher, who explained that while flowers are lovely and cheering to many patients, their cheery influence is limited primarily to women and the extent of plant life in a vase.

The magazines are the key.

The Cheeriodicals concept was conceived when Mary Martha Parisher sought to purchase magazines for her hospitalized uncle. She believed he needed a cheerful distraction from his chemo treatment.

Unable to find any in the gift shop, she took the first step toward a solution: a proposition to her husband for change.

Now, great change is happening.

“We’ve been in business three years, and have done some really miraculous things along the way,” Gary Parisher said.

Cheeriodicals has partnered with organizations such as Nationwide Children’s, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and St. Jude, providing to ill and injured children gift boxes purchased by sponsors who personally “build” and distribute the boxes with their “team-builders.”

This team hand-delivery system, said Parisher, is a service instigated by managing partner Adam Rhoades of Northwestern Mutual of Alabama, who sponsored Cheeriodical’s first Children’s Hospital of Alabama event.

The event served as a precedent for the many successful events that followed.

“Just watching the children’s reactions,” Parisher said, “it makes the entire process worth it.”

Upon receiving a Cheeriodical, recalled Parisher, one 7-year-old cancer patient slowly removed each item, silently positioning the items in a perfect line on the food tray in front of him. The engineers who had delivered the gift box stood quietly watching the bald little boy.

“After about eight minutes each item had been arranged in a perfect line,” said Parisher. “The boy looked up and simply said, ‘Thanks.’ Then his mom turned to the visitors and said, ‘I guess you know he’s going to be an engineer one day.’”

“That’s why we do it,” said Parisher.

The extent of Cheeriodicals’ and the other young businesses’ impact through Alabama Launchpad will be determined in the competition’s finale Sept. 25.

For more information or to purchase a Cheeriodical, visit Cheeriodicals.com.