Toys-R-Us will help spread a bit of Christmas cheer to millions of needy children by becoming the holiday giving HQ for Toys for Tots.
As the US poverty rate increases to more than 14 million kids in need, Toys-R-Us has launched its seventh annual fund-raising campaign to help the US Marine Reserve’s Toys for Tots Foundation provide gifts for the disadvantaged children to unwrap on Christmas morning.
Building on last year’s partnership with Shaquille O’Neal, the company has once again teamed with the four-time NBA champ to invite customers to “Join Shaq, Give Back.” As his holiday alter-ego ‘Shaq-A-Claus’, O’Neal will encourage shoppers to donate new, unwrapped toys and cash in Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/ToysforTots beginning Sunday, October 31st.
According to a recent report from the US Census Bureau, the poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009 â€” the highest level since 1994. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five residents under 18 living below the poverty line.
Given these escalating poverty statistics, providing gifts to all children living in poverty becomes more difficult every year. Last year, the Toys-R-Us fund-raising campaign raised $3.4 million and nearly 335,000 toys. This helped the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation provide gifts to 7.4 million children.
“As poverty rates continue to rise, we remain steadfast in our commitment to help ensure no child goes without a gift on Christmas, and we’re proud to partner with Shaquille O’Neal to raise awareness and funds through this special initiative,” said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys-R-Us, Inc. “We’re making it easy to get involved in the Toys for Tots campaign by serving as THE holiday giving headquarters for the thousands of holiday shoppers that will frequent our stores this season.”
After fifteen years of buying gifts at Toys-R-Us to distribute to underprivileged children in cities across the country, O’Neal earned the name ‘Shaq-A-Claus’ and the NBA icon formalized his partnership with the company last year. This Christmas season, the legend of Shaq-A-Claus will live on as O’Neal makes surprise visits to Toys-R-Us stores in the coming months to shop for needy children and encourage customers to join him in giving back.
“My parents always encouraged me to give back to those less fortunate, and ever since I made it to the NBA, I’ve been visiting Toys-R-Us stores during the holiday season to buy gifts for kids in need,” said Shaquille O’Neal. “As a father myself, I know firsthand how magical it is for a child to open a gift on Christmas morning, which is why I’m excited to report for Toys for Tots duty this year as part of my partnership with Toys-R-Us. I hope everyone will join me so, together, we can spread holiday cheer to millions of needy kids in the United States.”
Image by Jeffery Simpson via Flickr