WAYNE, N.J., Oct. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As the holiday season quickly approaches, Toys"R"Us® today announced the launch of its annual nationwide fundraising campaign to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. To encourage people of all ages to join in spreading holiday cheer to the more than 16 million children living in poverty in the United States, the company has once again teamed up with NBA Legend, actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Shaquille O'Neal – a.k.a. Shaq-A-Claus. Now through December 2, consumers can "Give Back with Shaq" by donating new, unwrapped toys in Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us® stores nationwide. Those interested in making a toy or cash contribution online can visit Toysrus.com/ToysforTots through Christmas Eve, where they can browse Shaq's Santa Sack, the official Toys for Tots Wish List filled with playthings sure to bring smiles to kids' faces when they're unwrapped on Christmas morning.
The company's 2011 campaign to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation was its most successful to date, raising $4 million and collecting more than 400,000 toys to help make the holidays brighter for kids in need across the United States. According to a recent report published by the United States Census Bureau, the poverty rate in 2011 was 15.1%, with more than 16 million children living in poverty. Dedicated to helping kids in time of need, the company is determined to raise even more toys and cash to help ensure that these children wake up on Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree. To jumpstart this year's campaign, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys"R"Us, Inc., has provided a $250,000 grant to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
A Tradition of Giving Continues
For nearly 20 years, Shaquille has given back to local communities across the country by purchasing toys at Toys"R"Us stores and donating them to children who might have otherwise gone without a gift to open on Christmas morning. Sharing in the company's mission to help kids in time of need, Shaq-A-Claus formally partnered with Toys"R"Us and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund for the first time in 2009 to support the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. For a fourth consecutive year, he'll help encourage people everywhere to "Give Back with Shaq" by making toy and monetary donations in-store and online.
"I've lined up my reindeer, gathered my helpers and called for my sleigh – now, it's all about bringing toys and smiles to the millions of kids in need across the country," said Shaquille O'Neal. "This is my fourth year partnering with Toys"R"Us to support the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, and I couldn't be more excited. For the next nine weeks, I'll be encouraging people everywhere to 'Give Back with Shaq'. Last year was a record-breaking year, but, I know that with the help of generous consumers, this year's campaign can be a slam dunk!"
In Toys"R"Us or Babies"R"Us stores nationwide, guests will be greeted by campaign signage, including donation bins, featuring the NBA Legend. Additionally, Shaquille will make surprise visits to Toys"R"Us stores throughout the Christmas season to shop for toys to donate to Toys for Tots.
Giving Back is a Breeze with Shaq's Santa Sack
To make it even easier for guests to donate to kids in need while shopping with Toys"R"Us, either in-store or online, the company has launched Shaq's Santa Sack, the first-ever official Toys for Tots Wish List filled with product donation suggestions, including dolls, play sets, books, trucks and more, that are sure to excite and delight children. Shaq's Santa Sack can be accessed through the company's dedicated online Toys for Tots hub at Toysrus.com/ToysforTots, where visitors can buy toys online and ship them directly to Toys for Tots. Additionally, guests can view a special message from Shaq-A-Claus, find out more about the organization and make a monetary donation.
Shaq's Santa Sack can also be printed in-store at designated Wish List kiosks or at the Customer Service Desk, allowing shoppers to reference the list as they search for a new, unwrapped toy to donate at their local Toys"R"Us or Babies"R"Us store. All toys donated in-store are distributed within that particular community, making this a truly local program. Cash donations will be accepted in-store and online through Christmas Eve.
"We have partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation each year for nearly a decade, and we're honored to have Shaquille O'Neal, who is equally committed to spreading the joy of Christmas to kids in need, join us for a fourth consecutive campaign," said Sloane Lucas, Director, Corporate Philanthropy, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "This year, we're making it even easier for our shoppers to choose the perfect toy to donate with the official Toys for Tots Wish List. We're on a mission to collect more toys and more dollars than ever before, and we know that with the help of our customers, we can have another record-breaking program."
"We were thrilled with the overwhelming response of kids and families across the country during last year's Toys"R"Us fundraising campaign, and we are so excited to have them join us for a ninth year," said LtGen Pete Osman, USMC (Ret), President and CEO, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "The joy on the face of a child tearing the wrapping paper off of a toy from under the tree is undeniable. That's why we're encouraging Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us customers nationwide to donate – every toy and dollar counts!"
As the largest retail partner in the history of the organization, Toys"R"Us has raised over $27.6 million and collected more than 3.4 million toys since the partnership began in 2004.
Shaq-tastic Content for Social-Savvy Fans
Throughout the nine-week holiday giving campaign, fans of the Toys"R"Us Facebook page at Facebook.com/Toysrus will enjoy exclusive content, including special messages from Shaq-A-Claus, fundraising updates and more. To help spread awareness and further engage the online community, the company has created a viral video series entitled "The 12 Days of Giving," in which Shaq-A-Claus sings his very own, toy-inspired version of the holiday song, "The 12 Days of Christmas." The videos will be distributed through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the course of the campaign, with each clip in the series highlighting products and playthings that Shaq-A-Claus will be donating to children in need through the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. To help spread the word, Twitter users can join the conversation with #ShaqAClaus. To encourage his own followers to join him in giving back this holiday season, Shaq-A-Claus will tweet (@SHAQ), blog and post on Facebook at Facebook.com/Shaq.
About Toys"R"Us, Inc.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 874 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and in more than 635 international stores and over 145 licensed stores in 35 countries and jurisdictions. In addition, it exclusively operates the legendary FAO Schwarz brand and sells extraordinary toys in the brand's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com, Babiesrus.com, eToys.com and FAO.com, it provides shoppers with a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates annually worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need. Additional information about Toys"R"Us, Inc. can be found on Toysrusinc.com. Follow Toys"R"Us, Babies"R"Us and FAO Schwarz on Facebook at Facebook.com/Toysrus, Facebook.com/Babiesrus and Facebook.com/FAO and on Twitter at Twitter.com/Toysrus and Twitter.com/Babiesrus.
About the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund
The Toys"R"Us Children's Fund is a public charity affiliated with Toys"R"Us, Inc., a company that unabashedly declares "We love kids!" The core mission of the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund is to keep children safe and help them in times of need. Since it was founded in 1992, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund has contributed millions of dollars to qualified organizations that support that mission, including those providing disaster relief to children and families who are victims of large-scale crises. The Toys"R"Us Children's Fund also provides grants to leading organizations that support children with special needs.
Primary fundraising activities include the annual Toys"R"Us Children's Fund Gala, a private, invitation-only event that showcases the work of the Fund and raises money to support its many beneficiaries. This annual benefit has raised $100 million since its inception in 1985 and is one of the largest single-night fundraising events held in New York City.
SOURCE Toys"R"Us, Inc.