Website filling seats and helping causes

In 2011, Leslie Denino’s 5-year-old son, Luke, was diagnosed with cancer. When they returned to Denham Springs after he was treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she was impressed with more than just the medical care.

Denino discovered that Memphis Grizzlies basketball and Memphis Red Birds baseball season ticket-holders routinely donated tickets they weren’t going to use to the hospital so patients and parents could attend. She wondered if that charitable mindset could spread.

Attending an LSU baseball game with Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge convinced her that it could.

“There were a ton of seats, because they were playing the same team three nights in a row,” she said. “A lot of the season ticket holders probably didn’t go to all three games, so there were a lot of seats.”

So, Denino has started an Internet business designed to fill those seats and help worthwhile causes at the same time.

Denino and her cousin, Lauren Johnson of Raleigh, N.C., recently founded CharityBlip.com. The concept is simple. Have tickets — sports, theater, entertainment — that you don’t plan to use? CharityBlip will sell the ticket and donate 80 percent of the proceeds to the charity of the ticket-owner’s choice. If the ticket goes unsold, it will go to Cancer Services, which will give it to a client.

The other 20 percent supports the website, Denino said.

“It could be a symphony,” Denino said. “It could be a music concert coming into town. It could be tickets to the zoo. A restaurant owner can donate, say, a $50 gift certificate, and $40 would go to a charity, and they might get a new customer who had never gone into their restaurant before.

“We’re providing a service for organizations to raise money, and it doesn’t have to be a medical nonprofit. It could benefit the school band, or the Little League (team) going to a tournament.”

Denino, an LSU graduate who has been a schoolteacher and worked in pharmaceutical sales, had never started an online business before Luke, now 7, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor on a kidney.

He has recovered and returned to school. During some of his treatments, Johnson either helped Denino’s husband look after their other four children or assisted Denino in Memphis. Johnson is organizing CharityBlip in Raleigh.

Denino said LSU has agreed to allow ticket-holders participating in CharityBlip to drop tickets off at the box office, and CharityBlip will inform LSU who will be picking them up — either a purchaser or a Cancer Services client. Cancer Services’s office, 550 Lobdell Ave., is another dropoff-pickup point. Tickets can be bought on the website using PayPal or credit or debit cards until noon on the day of a weekday event or noon Friday for a weekend event.

Having just begun CharityBlip, Denino said her biggest need is people willing to donate tickets they won’t be using.