April 01, 2013 // Franchising.com // WAYNE, NJ – Toys"R"Us, Inc. today announced the launch of its “Shine A Light For Autism” in-store and online fundraising campaign to benefit Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Now through Tuesday, April 30, monetary donations will be collected at more than 870 Toys"R"Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks. In addition, individuals nationwide are invited to join a Walk Now For Autism Speaks event in their local community, or “Walk With Geoffrey” online and personally fundraise for Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding global research, raising public awareness and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The organization also helps support children and families through partnerships with local autism organizations across the country. All funds raised during the 2013 Toys"R"Us campaign will be dedicated to supporting the Autism Speaks Community Grants program, which helps promote services that enhance the lives of those affected by autism, expand the capacity to effectively serve this growing community and enhance the field of service providers.
“Through this campaign, and our ongoing commitment to the special needs community, we hope to shine a light on the struggles children and families face as a result of autism spectrum disorders,” said Kathleen Waugh, Chairman of the Toys"R"Us Children’s Fund. “Many of our customers and team members have been personally impacted by this disorder, so this program is even more meaningful as we work together to help solve the autism puzzle.”
The company’s “Shine A Light For Autism” theme has been brought to life through a single campaign image created by James Hogarth, a talented artist with autism, and son of proud mom Mary Hogarth, a longtime employee of Toys"R"Us. A friendly sun shines its warm light on many-hued homes, each with a child peering out, representing the many faces and facets of this spectrum disorder. Customers have the opportunity to bring this artistic interpretation home through a reusable shopping bag. Those who donate $10 or more to Autism Speaks at any Toys"R"Us or Babies“R”Us store will receive the limited-edition item, while supplies last.
At Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks, visitors can also find a downloadable PDF and online store featuring the “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism.” The company collaborated with Autism Speaks and the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children with disabilities, to identify toys that can help kids with autism develop language, creativity and social skills, among others, while playing alongside siblings and friends. The “Ten Toys That Speak To Autism” is a special subset of the annual Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids and will remain online as a resource throughout the year.
Toys"R"Us, Babies“R”Us and the Toys"R"Us Children’s Fund together serve as national sponsors of Walk Now for Autism Speaks, a year-long series of more than 95 walk events taking place throughout North America. During these events, “R”Us employees walk alongside individuals with autism, their families and friends to raise money and awareness.
This year, for the first time, people across the country can sign up to “Walk With Geoffrey” online at WalkNowForAutismSpeaks.org/Geoffrey. Even if supporters aren’t near an event, they can still walk virtually alongside the company’s iconic mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe to raise funds for Autism Speaks.
The Toys"R"Us Children’s Fund provided a $400,000 grant to Autism Speaks to launch the 2013 campaign, and Toys"R"Us, Canada is also fundraising through its more than 70 stores. Since 2007, Toys"R"Us, Inc., the Toys"R"Us Children’s Fund and customer contributions have combined to provide Autism Speaks with more than $16 million.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
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.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.