Not for shy, squeamish


The Oklahoman
October 26, 2009
By Heather Warlick-Moore
Copyright © 2009, The Oklahoma Publishing Company

As the holidays draw nearer, many Oklahomans will be seeking ways to make extra money to pay for Christmas gifts, family gatherings and other festivities. With unemployment rates soaring, finding a part-time seasonal job might be challenging, but that doesn’t mean there are no options left to make extra money. If you get creative and are willing to try something a bit unusual, you can find the perfect way to bring in extra cash when you need it most.

Consider your talents and interests. Are you great with kids? Baby-sitting for your friends and neighbors is an idea. With good rates and references, building clientele should be easy.

Love animals? Offer to pet-sit when friends go out of town. A reader said she made $120 watching a neighbor’s two dogs four days while they vacationed.

Maybe you’re great at choosing gifts. Offer your gift-selecting and wrapping services to professionals who may hate shopping or just don’t have the time.

From catering holiday parties to mystery shopping and working at a Christmas tree farm, there are many ways you can find part-time, easy extra income.

Here are some unconventional ways to earn money:

Model for artists
Many local art studios, university art departments and individual artists need live models to pose for portraits and sculptures. If you’re brave and not too shy, you can make about $20 an hour to pose for nude life drawing studies.

Glen Thomas teaches Life Drawing at City Arts Center and uses mostly nude models. He finds models for his classes mostly by word of mouth, and when he finds one he can rely on, he uses that model often.

“Really, beauty is not really a criterion. Punctuality is the No. 1 criteria,” Thomas said.

He’s drawn every body type. In fact, some of his favorite drawings are of “a little old man who absolutely did not have a nice physique, but he was interesting. He had a nice face.”

Often, Thomas said, artists are seeking models just for portraits. Sometimes artists seek models who have specialties such as dancing, and sometimes artists will ask a model to pose in costume.

“A lot of people think that there’s something sexual going on. It’s not that at all. This is aesthetic,” Thomas said. “We’re here to draw the human figure, and I’ve never drawn a human figure that wasn’t worth drawing.”

If you’re interested in modeling for artists, Thomas recommends calling university art departments, local art studios and organizations such as the City Arts Center (951-0000) and Norman Firehouse Art Center (329-4523).

Participate in medical research
Companies such as COR Clinical Research and Lynn Health Services Institute are always looking for people to partic-ipate in phase 3 and phase 4 medical studies to test new pharmaceuticals.

“We are basically the middle man between pharmaceutical companies and the FDA,” said Courtney Manning, spokeswoman for The Lynn Institute. “It is difficult for us to find people, because people don’t really understand what we do. They think that we are just looking for some guinea pigs to come in and test new drugs. We’re not cooking drugs up in the basement.”

The Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to hire nonbiased researchers to test their med-icines before approval. People with medical conditions ranging from restless legs syndrome to high blood pressure and as serious as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are needed for the clinical trials. Manning said participants in medical studies are covered by the pharmaceutical companies’ insurance policies.

Steve Newlon, director of marketing and patient recruitment at COR Clinical Research, said Oklahoma has about 25 companies that do this kind of research and need test participants. At COR, volunteers make about $20 per visit, he said. But FDA regulations limit participants to one study at a time, and they must wait 30 days between studies.

At The Lynn Institute, volunteers are paid $50 per visit, Manning said. All tests, procedures and medical follow-up is free of charge, and results of any medical tests performed are shared with participants. As a result, Manning said, volunteering for medical research can often be a good way to get free medical tests and procedures that would be expensive otherwise.

For example, she said, one patient who wanted to participate in a restless legs syndrome study was required to stay overnight in the facility’s sleep study lab, for which he was paid $200. During the sleep study, the man was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which disqualified him for the restless legs study. But the man was actually paid for a diagnosis that would have cost thousands outside of the research setting.

To find out more about participating in medical research studies, call COR Clinical Research at 272-8481 or go online to, or call Lynn Health Services Institute at 602-3935 or go online to

Work odd jobs at a temporary staffing service
Labor Ready is one such service where people can find work on a daily, weekly or long-term basis. Doug Lewis, branch manager at the Labor Ready office at 914 NW 23, said the company pays daily, and people can show up to work when they are available or need extra money. But he said the time to show up is 5:30 a.m. to be considered for daily jobs.

The company hires people for weekend jobs, too, so if you work a full-time job during the week, you can offer your services just for a Saturday or Sunday.

All potential employees are required to complete an application and an extensive behavioral survey. Some jobs require more extensive background checks.

Labor Ready jobs are often physically demanding, but other temporary agencies offer more clerical and retail types of jobs.

If you’re interested in temporary employment with Labor Ready, call one of the local offices to set up an appointment to complete paperwork (925 SW 59, 634-3100; or 914 NW 23, 524-1388).
Look in the phone book or search online for other local employment agencies.

Donate plasma
You can make up to a few hundred dollars each month by donating plasma twice a week. CSL Plasma is a local plasma donation center that always is seeking donors. The process is similar to donating blood but takes about 45 minutes, said Christine Kuhinka, manager of corporate communications at CSL Plasma.

“We really applaud our plasma donors. They’re making a very valuable contribution to society and helping to save lives,” Kuhinka said.

Compensation for plasma donation varies based on a person’s weight, because a larger person can donate more plasma than a smaller person.

Plasma is the same in everyone, so there are no ethnic, gender or heritage preferences. Donors simply must be healthy and at least 18 years old. At the first visit, you’ll be required to undergo a health screening and questionnaire, so be ready to spend a couple of hours.

For more information about donating plasma, call CSL Plasma at 521-9204 in Oklahoma City, 447-9977 in Norman, (580) 248-4851 in Lawton and (918) 838-2656 or (918) 582-4346 in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Blood Institute also accepts plasma donations but on a volunteer, unpaid basis.