2014 TOYS“R”US CHILDREN’S FUND GALA, HEADLINED BY MARTIN SHORT AND JAMES TAYLOR, DREW SUPPORT FROM TOY AND BABY PRODUCT INDUSTRY LEADERS TO RAISE $4.5 MILLION
Among the Largest Single-Night Fundraising Events in New York City, the Annual Benefit Helps Toys“R”Us to Advance Its Philanthropic Mission with Approximately $110 Million Generated Since the Gala’s Inception in 1985; Company’s Leading Charitable Partners, Including Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Operation Shower and Special Olympics, Highlighted for Exemplary Efforts to Keep Kids Safe and Help Them in Times of Need
WAYNE, NJ (May 16, 2014) – Last night, more than 1,200 leaders from the toy and baby products industries came together at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City to celebrate the 2014 Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund Gala. During this special evening of entertainment and fundraising, $4.5 million was raised for the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys“R”Us, Inc., to aid in its mission to keep children safe and help them in times of need. The event was hosted by Emmy® and Tony Award®-winning comedian Martin Short and featured a brilliant performance by five-time GRAMMY® winner James Taylor and his All-Star Band.
“The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund Gala is a wonderful occasion for industry partners to join together in celebrating our shared mission to bring joy into the lives of all children,” said Kathleen Waugh, Chairman of the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund. “This event also allows us to proudly showcase the Fund’s most significant efforts in charitable giving over the past year and to salute the many respected non-profit organizations we support.”
The evening featured a unique opportunity for guests to lend support to the thousands of Special Olympics Athletes from across the country competing in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in NJ next month. Gala attendees rallied during a live text-to-donate opportunity to offset some of the costs associated with participating in the Games, allowing these athletes to devote themselves to discover new strengths, abilities and skills through the Special Olympics’ program.
Toys“R”Us was the first Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games with a $1 million grant from the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund. Toys“R”Us will also serve as the presenting sponsor of the first-ever Young Athletes Festival at the upcoming Games, providing opportunities for children ages 2 to 7 to take part in the Special Olympics’ Young Athletes Program. In February, the company also launched a text-to-donate campaign encouraging customers to support the current and future champions of this summer’s Games.
Below are highlights of some of the company’s key philanthropic initiatives from the past year:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
In 2013, Toys“R”Us partnered for the third consecutive year with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), an organization dedicated to helping find a cure for childhood cancer. What started as a front yard lemonade stand hosted by 4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who was diagnosed with cancer just before her first birthday, has turned into a national effort continued today by children and families who host lemonade stands across the country each year. The company’s in-store and online fundraising campaign raised more than $1.8 million in 2013 and helped teach the importance of giving back by encouraging children to host their own official Alex’s Lemonade Stands. Additionally, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund provided a $100,000 grant to the organization to support childhood cancer research and resources for families battling this disease. Since the partnership began in 2011, donations from customers, Toys“R”Us, Inc. and the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund together have provided nearly $6 million to the organization.
Disaster Response and Relief
As part of an ongoing commitment to help children and families in times of crisis, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and Toys“R”Us, Inc. have provided millions of dollars in monetary and product donations during disaster situations. Most recently the Fund donated to Save the Children’s relief and recovery efforts following the tornadoes in Oklahoma and provided $500,000 to the organization to help assist children and families in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut affected by Hurricane Sandy. To expand on this commitment and in conjunction with the official start of hurricane season, Toys“R”Us stores recently debuted a reusable bag showcasing Save the Children artwork created by a young child. One dollar from the purchase of each bag will benefit the organization’s Domestic Emergency Fund. As part of this initiative, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund made a $100,000 donation to the Domestic Emergency Fund to help Save the Children further strengthen disaster preparedness programs and relief efforts here in the United States.
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and Toys“R”Us, Inc. teamed up for a fifth consecutive year with NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal – and his alter-ego Shaq-A-Claus – to help the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation bring toys and smiles to America’s neediest children during the 2013 holiday season. This year’s in-store and online fundraising campaign raised nearly $4 million and collected 325,000 toys proving there really is “No Wish Too Big” for Shaq-A-Claus. The Fund also provided a $250,000 grant to Toys for Tots to kick off the program. Toys“R”Us has raised over $35.5 million and collected more than 4 million toys for the organization since 2004. In addition, grants totaling more than $5.2 million have been awarded to Toys for Tots by the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund.
The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and Babies“R”Us once again joined forces with Operation Shower, an organization that hosts joyful baby showers for military wives to ease the stress of their husbands’ deployment, to co-host baby shower events nationwide. In addition to being separated from their spouses, these moms-to-be are often far away from friends and family. Showers are held across the country for all branches of the armed forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard – to ensure these women receive some of the basic essentials they need for their newborns. Since the partnership began in 2012, Operation Shower and Babies“R”Us have showered nearly 400 moms during seven amazing events – including the organization’s largest to date, hosted by mom of four and fashion designer Heidi Klum. The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund has provided $200,000 in grants to Operation Shower so it may deliver gifts and festive occasions to celebrate these moms and their new arrivals.
This past year, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund provided Make-A-Wish America with $500,000 in grant funding. A visit to Toys“R”Us is a top request for many “wish children” who are facing life-threatening medical conditions, and throughout the year, Toys“R”Us stores nationwide created celebratory events during special shopping trips. Over the past 17 years, hundreds of shopping sprees have been held in stores across the country. Additionally, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund and Toys“R”Us, Inc. have supported Make-A-Wish with more than $2.8 million to help make wishes come true.
Toys“R”Us is proud to be a Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games and the Presenting Sponsor of the first-ever Young Athletes Festival, which will showcase the Young Athletes Program, an innovative play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities that helps kids develop critical early cognitive, social and motor skills. In addition to a $1 million commitment as the first Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, Toys“R”Us launched a nationwide in-store and online awareness program encouraging customers to #CheerOnAChampion and support the 2014 USA Games through a mobile giving campaign. Funds raised will help Special Olympics athletes go for the gold at the Games being held in New Jersey from June 14-21. In addition to being a Founding Partner of the 2014 USA Games, Toys“R”Us also serves as the Presenting Sponsor of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, during which more than 100 law enforcement officers and Special Olympics athletes from all 50 states will take part in a multi-day torch run leading up to the Games’ Opening Ceremony on June 15.
Toys“R”Us, Inc. and the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund have a long history of supporting the special needs community through the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, a valuable resource released annually, providing qualified toy recommendations to help aid in the skill development of children who have physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. This year’s cover features Isabella Caesar and Samuel Lopez from Special Olympics New Jersey’s Young Athletes Program, along with Gabby Douglas, 2012 All-Around gymnastics gold medalist at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
About the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund
For nearly 30 years, the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund has provided millions of dollars annually to countless children’s charities that support the Fund’s mission to keep kids safe and help them in times of need. Together with Toys“R”Us, Inc., the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund work with organizations nationwide to further programs that are positively impacting the lives of children and families.
Charitable Giving at Toys“R”Us
The philanthropic mission of Toys“R”Us, Inc. and the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund is to keep children safe and help them in times of need. The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund contributes millions of dollars annually to various children’s organizations, including those providing disaster relief to victims of large-scale crises, as well as those supporting America’s military families. The Fund also provides grants to leading special needs organizations and has donated $1 million as the first Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games. In addition to financial and product donations, Toys“R”Us, Inc. hosts in-store and online fundraising campaigns annually that raise millions of dollars for the company’s signature philanthropic partners.
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