May 18, 2010 // Franchising.com // WAYNE, NJ – Today, Toys"R"Us, U.S. announced that its fourth annual nationwide in-store fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, raised nearly $1.8 million. Coinciding with Autism Awareness Month in April, all of the company's Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores across the country, along with Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, collected cash donations to help the organization fund global biomedical research for autism while raising public awareness about the disorder and its effects on individuals, families and society.
"For the fourth consecutive year, our customers and employees demonstrated their desire to help solve the autism puzzle by generously supporting our campaign to benefit Autism Speaks," said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "At Toys"R"Us, we are committed to improving the lives of children and families in need, and we're proud that our efforts will help Autism Speaks fund much-needed research, as well as advocacy efforts."
During the campaign, the company created several programs to help parents and caregivers of children with autism. In collaboration with Autism Speaks and the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children with disabilities, the company identified toys that can help little ones with autism develop crucial skills while playing alongside siblings and friends. The "Ten Toys That Speak To Autism," a special subset of the annual Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, provides toy suggestions specifically for families and friends of children with autism. With guidance from leading safety organizations and Autism Speaks, Toys"R"Us also developed Safe Play Tips that are relevant for children with autism. The "Ten Toys That Speak To Autism" and Safe Play Tips are available year-round at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks.
To further support the company's advocacy and awareness efforts during Autism Awareness Month, actress, author and Autism Speaks board member, Holly Robinson Peete; former NFL quarterback and family man, Rodney Peete; and their daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, participated in a special event at the company's international flagship store, Toys"R"Us Times Square. The Peete family met with fans and families affected by autism, while autographing copies of their two new books, My Brother Charlie and Not My Boy! Both books are based on their family's personal journey with autism.
"For four years now, the "R"Us family and their customers have shown overwhelming support for helping Autism Speaks in our mission to find the causes, more effective treatments and better diagnostic tools for autism," said Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks. "Since 2006, this partnership has raised millions of dollars, providing us with the opportunity to educate families throughout North America about autism spectrum disorders."
Continuing its commitment to Autism Speaks throughout the year, Toys"R"Us, Inc. and the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund serve as the North American sponsor of the Walk Now for Autism Speaks program, a series of more than 80 walk events in cities across the United States and Canada. Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us employees are forming teams in their local communities to participate in the Walk events and raise even more funds for Autism Speaks. The complete schedule of Walk Now for Autism Speaks events can be found at WalkNowforAutismSpeaks.org.
Additionally, for the first time in the partnership's four-year history, Toys"R"Us stores in Canada hosted a fundraising campaign to benefit the organization, which raised nearly $600,000. This marks the first time in the company's extensive philanthropic history that its store networks across North America have joined forces to support a unified philanthropic endeavor.
The Toys"R"Us Children's Fund launched this year's program by providing a $400,000 grant to Autism Speaks. Since the partnership launched in 2007, Toys"R"Us, Inc., the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $8.4 million.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. It currently sells merchandise in more than 1,550 stores, including 847 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States, and more than 700 international stores in 33 countries, consisting of both licensed and franchised stores. 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, FAO.com and babyuniverse.com, it provides shoppers with an unparalleled online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Headquartered in Wayne, NJ, Toys"R"Us, Inc. employs approximately 70,000 associates 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.